Friday, July 17, 2009

The Good Son Review

The Good Son Poster

The year was 1993 and a young Macaulay Culkin was on the rise as the new child star and alongside him was a young Elijah Wood, not as famous but equally as talented. The latter would have a greater career and one might even argue that the ending of this film focused on who would be greater in the long run, but let's not poke fun, yet. The movie I am reviewing today, finally reviewing a real film, is not one that many people saw. Out of all the people I spoke to, no one saw this film. I saw it and thought it was good at the time, but in 1993 I was 10 years old, what the hell did I know about movies? So here we go, a horror/thriller that is now being replicated often...or at least in theory. Join me in reviewing, thinking, and judging The Good Son. (que the scary music)

The Good Son was an odd psychological thriller of a film that starred, as stated above, Macaulay Culkin. Now, if you're not familiar with his body of work, then you should remember that he did Home Alone, Richie Rich, and a slew of other children's films where he was screaming or alone or getting into hijinx of all types. He was NOT the perfect man for the job, on paper. To call him a man is an insult, since he was a young kid when this film went into production. The story's plot is simple yet has a slight twist on the weird child formula. Mark Evans, played by Wood, sees his mom die of cancer and believes it his fault somehow. His dad has to go out of town on business and lets Mark stay at his relatives, this is where Henry, played by Culkin, comes into the picture. The two are quick friends, being of similar age, but things start to go sour slowly.

Here's a trailer for The Good Son:

As the movie progresses, we start to see that Henry is not a good kid, he's kind of odd. He loves violence and cruelty, in one key scene he even kills a dog. When Mark speaks up to his relatives, they don't believe him because Henry just looks like a sweet kid. As the deck gets more tense, we find out that the family lost a son recently, and that Henry was responsible, out of jealousy drowning his brother and playing innocent later. Things keep progressing, and the movie turns into a proverbial powder keg ready for someone to ignite the wick and watch it explode, and then the wheels come off.

The movie becomes really chilling, Mark and Henry become bitter rivals. Henry believes that Henry is trying to steal his mothers love, Mark thinks that his aunt could be his mother or a reincarnation of her, and things really get going. This movie builds up a staircase of tension only to find itself in interesting territory with Susan (mom & aunt) holding onto two kids off a cliff...who will she choose to save? She can't save both...she just can't.

Visually the film is good. The setting is the northern East Coast, a lovely place to live. The house, the ocean, it's all amazing to view and offsets the idea that horror films have to be dark and gloomy with poor lighting and terrible visualizations. The film sets you up for a big fall with the way the north east is portrayed. You would think that this was a Stephen King adaptation, with the way it portrays small town living and creepy children.

Is The Good Son Scary: Yes. This movie is a scary film. I find it scarier now that I'm older than when I was 10 years old. I am not a father yet, but stuff like this scares me. I am a man of Faith, but I still have these doubts that I can't control kids nor force them into a mold. I shouldn't, since it's useless to fear what is not even in the near future for I think, but it's in my head. More discerning fans of horror will realize how scary this movie really is. What if a child was so bad that he tried to kill you? This is obviously a repeated theme in horror.

Think about all the "scary kids" movies. You can probably cite, The Omen, Rosemary's Baby, Hide and Seek, The Orphan, The Bad Seed, The Ring, Children of the Corn, Firestarter, Children of the Damned, The Brood and that's just a few. Most recently there's a movie called "Orphan" that will yet again put a new spin on the old "scary kid" movies. Horror fans are used to this prowess of children, they have more than the nag factor and can create chaos for parents that are not ready for what is to come.

Sure, we can go back and forth on whether or not all Henry needs is a good spanking, but this movie seems further than that. The Good Son creates a nice amount of tension for a film starring kids. I would highly recommend a viewing of The Good Son, as it is still one of the better thrillers in the "creepy kids" genre.

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1 comment:

  1. I think the most interesting thing about this movie is its author. The screenplay is written by Ian McEwan, one the most celebrated literary novelists of our time. He wrote The Comfort of Strangers - a chilling book and even chillier film with Helen Mirren - and Atonement, the Academy Award Nominated film. He is truly a gifted writer and it shows in The Good Son, which is an unexpectedly good film.


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A writer first, cat lover second, and some other stuff too. Human, with lots of faults, and terrible communication.
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