Film Reviews:

The Good Son

(Joseph Ruben, US, 1993)

It's difficult to believe this took two years to receive a video-only release in the UK after the BBFC delayed it because it starred a popular child actor (Macaulay Culkin) in an adult film. When it did eventually appear it was with an 18 certificate - something the film clearly doesn't require - another sign of the BBFC's 'concern' that no pre-teens see this film. Fine, then make it a 12 or even a 15 but an 18 - come on! Okay, rant over.

This is one of those 'evil child does evil things' films. Director Joseph Rubin has a taste for this stuff having previously directed Dreamscape, The Stepfather, Sleeping With The Enemy all of which share their spooky moments. Culkin gives an excellent performance as the wicked Henry who threatens the lives of all around him, with no-one but his cousin realising what's going on. And, of course, his cousin can't convince anyone else that there is something decidedly dodgy going on.

The landscape of the remote coastal setting is used to maximum dramatic effect and there is a brilliant Elmer Bernstein score adding a touch of class throughout. When Henry warns his cousin, "Mark, don't fuck with me", it has more sinister resonance that a speech by Suddam Hussain because it comes from the mouth of Culkin. Signs of editing in its brief running time (just 83 minutes) lead one to be suspicious of the BBFC. This could have cleaned up at the box office had it been given the chance and rightly so in my view. Not fantastic by any stretch of the imagination but worth seeing for Culkin's against-type performance alone.

Rob Dyer

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