Reviewed by: Moominkat

Not a film for 9am! It’s creepy, taut and ratchets the tension up to almost unbearable levels.

Wealthy Abby and Brad Cairn bring their lovely newborn daughter, Lily, home to a gracious apartment in central New York; itself almost a personality/character in the film, complete with a mysterious empty upstairs apartment, which is being done up. During the day the mother is assaulted by the sawing and hammering of unseen workmen, by night eerie noises emanate - the sound of rats or running feet?

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From the lonely stance of the piano stool in the sitting room, nine year-old Joshua watches his parents and grandparents dote on his little sister. You feel for him: shut out and virtually disregarded. Occasional attempts are made to bring him into the family fold with a joviality that he doesn’t get or enter into. They don’t mean to exclude him; he almost brings it upon himself. He is still and self-contained and they’re so wrapped up in their perfect little girl that they haven’t the time to think how their little boy might mind the fuss and attention being lavished upon the baby. So far, so morality tale: forget the older sibling at these times at your peril. I even found myself wondering what my big sister felt when I was brought home – she was much the same age as Joshua. Luckily for me (and my parents), she didn’t sort things out as Joshua does.

This film has so much going on there’s a lot to disentangle: a horror story, a psychological thriller, a huge and painful wodge of postpartum depression, in-laws who have their own agendas. Red herrings abound. The parents, laidback, easy going Brad and elegant highly-strung, Cate Blanchett-luminous Abby, don’t understand how they managed to produce a gifted child-adult, a stranger in their midst. You feel for him and you are annoyed with Brad and Abby for constantly cooing over Lily. Can’t they see how he left out he feels? ‘Cuddle him, dammit’, you want to shout; ‘or this will all end in tears…’ But then, your sympathies shift: how do you cope with a small being of your blood who regards you as beneath contempt, whom you can see calculating the next move, whose interests include Egyptian mummification and playing Bartok (he’s aged NINE, people).

It’s beautifully written and acted, hats off all around. Words can barely express the mix of revulsion and pity young Jacob Kogan brought out in me. He controls this film from the start. Move over, Damien. This is also a nod to another creepy New York brownstone horror story. Yes, I’m thinking of Rosemary's Baby. I felt that Celia Weston, the grandmother here, would have been perfect in that film too and am still not sure she wasn’t.

Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2007
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Joshua packshot
Jealous of his baby sister and ignored by his parents, a nine-year-old boy plans a terrible revenge.
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Director: George Ratliff

Writer: David Gilbert, George Ratliffe

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Vera Farmiga, Celia Weston, Dallas Roberts, Michael McKean, Jacob Kogan

Year: 2006

Runtime: 106 minutes

Country: US

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