Is there anything scary than a creepy little White kid? Nope. Nearly all of the scariest movies of all time have featured a little White kid who was scheming, killing, or in cahoots with their daddy, who happened to be the Devil. In The Good Son, the creepy White kid in question is Henry (Macaulay Culkin), who isn’t the least bit supernatural or otherworldy, but is a crafty, violent psychopath whose family is in for a very rude awakening.
Following the death of his mother, Mark (Elijah Wood) is sent spent winter break with his uncle, Wallace (Daniel Hugh Kelly), and his aunt, Susan (Wendy Crewson), while his father is away on business in Tokyo. Mark’s cousin, Henry, is the same age as he is and seems nice enough at first, but quickly reveals to Mark his unhealthy fixation with death, during discussions about both the death of Mark’s brother, as well as Henry’s little brother, Richard. Henry is fascinated and excited rather than empathetic and supportive. When he brings Mark along to play in one of his dangerous games, Mark quickly realizes that Henry is definitely not all talk, and becomes afraid of both what Henry might do to him, and to the rest of the family.
Meanwhile, Susan grows more and more suspicious of her son’s behaviour and although he tries to frame Mark as the problem child, Henry’s malevolence fails to escape his mother’s watchful eye. As Mark and Susan fight separately first to understand, and then to hinder Henry in his schemes, everyone must comes to terms with the terrifying reality of who and what he is, and what price they’re willing to pay to keep him in the family.
The Good Son is still one of Macaulay Culkin’s best performances of all time, and the match up of this powerhouse talent and the equally talented and charming Wood as his rival might be one of the best casting decisions ever. Because the movie is primarily driven by Culkin and Wood, we get to see them consistently outshine older cast members and bring a layer of fear, desperation, and sincerity to the story that it might have otherwise lacked. The Good Son is a movie that stays with you, and helps remind us all that bad people aren’t always “out there”. Every evil person has a family. Sometimes, that family can be yours.
I give this one 5 stars.