Joseph Ruben’s “The Good Son” (1993) offers us blended emotions proper from the beginning.
The opening credit’ font and Elmer Bernstein’s rating recommend a young household drama, akin to “My Girl” (1992), each of which star Macauley Culkin. The twist is that, whereas Culkin grew to become 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 this planet, within the lead of an R-rated psychological thriller the place he would play a 1990’s variant on “The Omen” (1976).
Understandably, numerous children attended the movie’s opening weekend and have been horrified that their star was murdering individuals on display screen, 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 additionally that the movie was part of household deal making, because the star’s father wouldn’t enable his son to make one other industrial car (the second “Home Alone”) with out stretching in a non-comic function.
Therefore, right here’s Culkin, appearing alongside Elijah Wooden and failing to maintain the would-be Hobbit from stealing his huge dramatic film from him.
Wooden performs Mike, whose mom has handed and is distributed to stick with his cousin Henry (Culkin), who wants a pal and a accomplice 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, underneath 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 cherished Macaulay Culkin after House 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 12 months 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 supplies the movie’s middle, and never Culkin’s look-how-bad-I-am flip, that powers the film.
Culkin’s self-aware line readings have 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 appearing is a stark distinction to the at all times 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 gentle for horror film followers and too sick for kids, “The Good Son” has not one of the chunk of the Damien Thorn movies (any of them) and might’t maintain a candle to latter like “Joshua” (2007), the most effective 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 desires to go all-in and embrace the insanity of “Bloody Birthday” (1981) and “The Children” (1980) however retains pulling again.
There’s social commentary and parental reflection to gauge inside a majority of these films, however the story’s twisted potential is softened by an excessively secure strategy.
It’s a bizarre expertise watching “The Good Son,” in that we wish the movie to get a lot gnarlier however cringe every time the movie is merciless sufficient to recommend that Kevin McCalister would stoop to killing a canine for enjoyable.
The screenplay is by Ian McEwan and sure would have performed higher with out the stunt casting. McEwan’s novel, “The Comfort of Strangers,” grew to become a jolting Christopher Walken-led 1990 Paul Schrader drama.
I had an particularly unusual expertise seeing “The Good Son” in a theater on opening evening.
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, obtained 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 remaining scene, a mom makes a selection that permits for a feel-good voice over earlier than the top credit. Had the mom made the trickier, extra dramatically richer selection of selecting to save lots of a distinct child, it might have made for a darker, extra thought-provoking conclusion.
All the things about “The Good Son” is like that – as ugly as this will get, it barely earns its R-rating and mushy peddles a narrative that wanted filmmakers unafraid of whom was taking part in the very dangerous seed.