We’ve had our share of creepy little White kids in this 61* Days of Horror* series, but absolutely none are as genuinely disturbed (and disturbing) as Joshua Cairn. In Joshua, the titular character, a brilliant little WASP who is a schemer and psychopath, takes audiences on a mind-fuck you’ll never forget!
Joshua (Jacob Kogan) lives in Manhattan with his parents, Brad and Abby (Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga), has a loving home, a prestiguous, private school education, and affectionate extended family members. Even better, Joshua has a new baby sister, Lily. All should be well, but this is a movie, so of course drama is gonna pop off, and the Cairns strange, conservative, and highly prodigious son is the person who fuels it. Jealous of his sister, and unhealthily attached to his uncle Ned (Dallas Roberts), Joshua brings stress and grief to the lives of his family in increasingly dangerous and detrimental ways.
Using his advanced intellect as a weapon and his age as a prop, Joshua embarks on a campaign of terror which includes gaslighting, manipulation, and murder to “edit” his family down to only those whom he finds essential, effectively causing his mother to experience a psychotic break, and his father to be caught in an unwinnable legal battle in the process. Terrifying, enthralling, clever, and unforgettable, Joshua is a film that makes audiences thankful for contraceptives and is probably the most effective (albeit unwitting) promotion for Planned Parenthood in existence. This kid is a reminder that the thickness of blood is irrelevant when you can’t trust your own kin.
I give this one 4.5 stars.