joshua2.jpgFox Searchlight Pictures
Now playing in select cinemas

From early peeks at the “Joshua” trailer, I quickly categorized it in the creepy kids folder with movies like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Omen.” Turns out that I was not that far off the mark. “Joshua” is set circa now on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga have a 9-year-old boy named Joshua who is very quiet and well-behaved (though super-peculiar) until his baby sister shows up on the scene and starts getting all the attention. Thus begins the uncomfortable downward spiral of the demon child taking over. Rockwell (soon to be seen in Clark Gregg’s adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s “Choke”) is as charming here, if not more so, than in any of his films to date. He is just so darn likable that you don’t want anything bad to happen to him (i.e. his own child plotting against him). Ms. Farmiga, who is taking the film world by storm (see “The Departed” and “Breaking and Entering”) starts to go ‘round the bend as a result of the little ankle-biter’s crazy antics. Needless to say, things do not end well. But the ending is not what we see these films for. We see them to be awestruck by the horrific events that the writers of psychological horror films can dream up. You know that someone’s gonna fall or be pushed down a flight of stairs or something like that, but it’s still so gratifying (and, no, not in a healthy way) to watch it all go down. “Joshua” delivers the chills and frights in all the right places, giving us a shiver by the time the credits roll and the lights come up. There is that sense that some little kid on the sidewalk is going to push you into the road as you walk out of the cinema. Creep factor achieved.