Joseph Ruben’s “The Good Son” (1993) offers us blended emotions proper from the beginning.
The opening credit’ font and Elmer Bernstein’s rating counsel a young household drama, akin to “My Girl” (1992), each of which star Macauley Culkin. The twist is that, whereas Culkin turned an enormous star from the PG-rated mega-blockbuster “Home Alone” (1990), and “My Girl” is finest remembered for the surprising tragedy surrounding his onscreen character, “The Good Son” was one thing else altogether.
Ruben’s movie was well-known for positioning Culkin, among the many largest and youngest film stars on the earth, within the lead of an R-rated psychological thriller the place he would play a 1990’s variant on “The Omen” (1976).
Understandably, a number of children attended the movie’s opening weekend and had been horrified that their star was murdering individuals on display, versus establishing wacky/ghastly traps for the deserving Moist Bandits.
Movie periodicals reported that Culkin was receiving a large paycheck to star in “The Good Son,” but in addition that the movie was part of household deal making, because the star’s father wouldn’t enable his son to make one other business automobile (the second “Home Alone”) with out stretching in a non-comic position.
Therefore, right here’s Culkin, performing alongside Elijah Wooden and failing to maintain the would-be Hobbit from stealing his large dramatic film from him.
Wooden performs Mike, whose mom has handed and is distributed to stick with his cousin Henry (Culkin), who wants a buddy and a companion for the havoc he’s about to unleash on his family.
Even the poster felt like a nasty name, with a good image of a smiling Culkin, below a tagline that learn “Evil Has Many Faces.” Informing your viewers that you just’re not supposed to love essentially the most endearing baby star of his era appeared like a stretch.
The Good Son. This film traumatized me as a child as a result of I beloved Macaulay Culkin after Dwelling Alone. Plus it’s not like he’s supernatural evil, he’s simply common particular person evil in a child. pic.twitter.com/LsWcrne6di
— Shoshana Kessock (@ShoshanaKessock) June 1, 2023
Culkin’s introductory scene, the place he emerges sporting a masks not misplaced in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (1992), poses an issue; is he too cute to be taking part in such an evil character or is the character too evil for an actor so cute?
Coming solely a yr after “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” (1992), this far-too-early profession stretch for Culkin fascinates in its unsteady makes an attempt to embrace the darkness of the story.
Wooden carries the movie, and the premise is lean and direct sufficient to offer for entertaining trash. The issue is that it’s Wooden who offers the movie’s middle, and never Culkin’s look-how-bad-I-am flip, that powers the film.
Culkin’s self-aware line readings had been humorous in “Uncle Buck” (1989) and “Home Alone” however come throughout as amateurish right here. Maybe he and Wooden ought to have swapped roles. Culkin has some good moments, however his self-conscious performing is a stark distinction to the all the time plausible Wooden.
Ruben is an efficient director, however he nailed this sort of materials in “The Stepfather” (1987), which additionally sported a perversely riveting idea (based mostly on a horrific true story) and was anchored by Terry O’Quinn’s unforgettable efficiency.
Too mild for horror film followers and too sick for kids, “The Good Son” has not one of the chew of the Damien Thorn movies (any of them) and may’t maintain a candle to latter like “Joshua” (2007), the very best model of this style of film.
Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wooden on the set of the film The Good Son. 1993 [1200×941] pic.twitter.com/HstPixXPXt
— Historyland (@HistoryIand) August 22, 2023
“The Bad Seed” (1956) is cited as a key on this subgenre, however Ruben’s movie needs to go all-in and embrace the insanity of “Bloody Birthday” (1981) and “The Children” (1980) however retains pulling again.
There may be social commentary and parental reflection to gauge inside most of these motion pictures, however the story’s twisted potential is softened by a very secure method.
It’s a bizarre expertise watching “The Good Son,” in that we wish the movie to get a lot gnarlier however cringe each time the movie is merciless sufficient to counsel that Kevin McCalister would stoop to killing a canine for enjoyable.
The screenplay is by Ian McEwan and certain would have performed higher with out the stunt casting. McEwan’s novel, “The Comfort of Strangers,” turned a jolting Christopher Walken-led 1990 Paul Schrader drama.
I had an particularly unusual expertise seeing “The Good Son” in a theater on opening night time.
It was taking part in on a number of screens and the usher by chance despatched my father, brother and I right into a sold-out theater the place there have been virtually no seats left and the movie was 20 minutes from ending.
The three of us sat down, bought to listen to the lovable younger star declare “Don’t f— with me” to a theater stuffed with gasps and, only a few scenes later, the film was over.
We realized what had occurred, and my dad organized for us to see the movie from the start. But, seeing the movie in its entirety was virtually precisely like watching the extraordinarily truncated model: we’re there to observe Culkin majorly misbehave and do actually dangerous issues, then the film is over.
The perverse attraction of the movie was current in both expertise.
Within the ultimate scene, a mom makes a alternative that enables for a feel-good voice over earlier than the tip credit. Had the mom made the trickier, extra dramatically richer alternative of selecting to save lots of a special child, it might have made for a darker, extra thought-provoking conclusion.
Every little thing about “The Good Son” is like that – as ugly as this will get, it barely earns its R-rating and tender peddles a narrative that wanted filmmakers unafraid of whom was taking part in the very dangerous seed.