The Good Son

Dir: Joseph Ruben
Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Elijah Wood, Wendy Crewson, David Morse

Richie Rich vs. Frodo in a fight to the death? It's impossible to watch this without an awareness of the different direction the two child stars' careers have gone, adding a picquant edge to the raging jealousy Culkin's character feels for Wood's. After his mother dies, Mark (Wood) is left with his aunt, uncle and cousins Henry and Connie (Macaulay and Quinn Culkin), only to discover rapidly that Henry is a psycho whose interests include crossbows, thin ice and causing highway accidents. Convincing anyone else of this is a different matter...

It took the BBFC almost two years and 33 seconds of cuts to give it a certificate after its US release, due to worries about child murderers in the post-Bulger era. That's probably giving the film more credit than it deserves. Despite some good sequences, such as the jaw-dropping freeway crash, it's too rapidly revealed that Henry's middle name is Hannibal - they'd have been better off playing with the idea it's all in Mark's mind. As is, you soon know that it'll all going to end on a convenient cliff-top, and no prizes for guessing who goes over. There are some joys to treasure on the way, such as Culkin saying "Don't fuck with me" - the best, though, is probably Wood practising the 'deep concern' expression he wore throughout Lord of the Rings. But given subsequent events, I bet Culkin now wishes he'd 'accidentally' dropped the hobbit-to-be from the treehouse...


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