JOSHUA (2006) – The Dungeon Review!

Apparently there was a 2007 film called Joshua about some manner of devil child starring Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga. Bloody hell! It took an eternity to find two crappy stills for Travis Betz’ Joshua, which came out the year before. Damn you Rockwell and Farmiga! Damn you to hell! I’ve never seen the 2007 Joshua, but it sure does have a tired old premise. Joshua, directed by Betz on the other hand is a wickedly original and nasty little tale with a hardcore horrific finale that should please the hell out of horror fans who like their genre flicks with balls. Its story is downright brilliant but the execution is definite bumpy at times.

Joshua opens with a drunken woman accompaning a man home. He leaves her alone in his front room and returns with a tool to slash her Achilles tendons with. She struggles to pull herself to the door, but no dice. We are then transported to the home of our central character Kelby asking his lady Amelia to marry him. The celebration is cut short by a phone call from a prison warden telling him his father has died. Kelby is forced to make the trip home with fiancée Amelia. Kelby’s dad is a baby murderer and was jailed when Kelby was just a kid. His sister is prickly and promiscuous and has no problem with intimacy among blood relations. A strange uncle who apparently loathed his father also turns up for the funeral. His messed up family are the least of his problems. It turns out Kelby has some secrets of his own. Some very dark and disturbing secrets! Kelby shares these indiscretions with two estranged friends; James and Wally. James is the gentleman we met in the opening scene who likes to slash tendons. By day James is an accountant and does the taxes of pretty much everyone in the tiny town. Wally is an awkward, socially inept cop who is going off the rails. As the film moves along we learn more about the ugly secret the three men share.

There isn’t a whole lot I can offer in regards to story or plot without divulging a spoiler. Joshua relies heavily on its story. The film manages to be thoroughly depraved with very little gore or graphic violence. The story really is a particular treat and the ending is a zinger! I loved it! The mainstream movie machine would never come up with anything as wonderfully sick and original as Joshua. Unfortunately a great story is affected by a very limited budget and a few questionable choices.

Joshua ends with a bang, but has a bumpy start. The opening scene with James and the drunken woman is terrible. It is one seriously weak and ineffective kill scene! I didn’t hold much hope after that crummy start. There are also a lot of irrelevant exchanges early that were unnecessary and dull. I found the setup really clumsy and uninteresting. Visually there isn’t anything that particularly stands out. Things are generally kept simple although Betz does play with the camera at times including some sped up shots and quick cuts that sometimes worked quite well and other sections not so much. The effects are few and far between but what’s included isn’t too bad at all. I was extremely impressed with the depth of depravity the story had without the gory accompaniment. This is a truly twisted little tale and Betz comes up with all sorts of ways to tell his story in lieu of a lot of effects. The use of old film footage of the boys was very effective!

Kelby is not exactly what I would call a dynamic guy. He has a lot of bad nightmares and sees flashes of horrific images but never seems all that effected by them. He was way too mellow for my liking and was a pretty iffy choice for the lead. The supporting characters make him seem extra lifeless. I assume they intended humour with the frightfully loopy Wally. He made me chuckle every time he was on screen. This character really goes batshit crazy! Then we have James, who just oozes yuck! Everything about this guy irritated me; the tone of his voice, his haircut, his psychical gestures! He’s not scary or intimidating by any means but he is arrogant and a little creepy. I quite disliked this character, but I figured that was the point. Kelby’s sister and uncle don’t get much screen time but a couple of their scenes stayed with me. In particular, Uncle Tom’s last scene in the film, which is very odd but amusing. Fiancée Amelia on the other hand has loads of screen time but I can’t recall a single thing to say about her. The acting is shaky at times but overall it’s fairly decent.

Even with the lack of graphic violence I think Joshua really is just too twisted for the casual horror film fan. It lacks the shine and gloss of a bigger budget flick but it has a shitload of heart and a wickedly good story that chilled my shit. It has a crummy start but it doesn’t take long to get rolling and when it does it is full of twists that should surprise even the cynical. Its execution is less than perfect but the brave are rewarded with one of the most delightfully demented horror stories I’ve stumbled upon in ages. Recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Travis Betz

Starring: Aaron Gaffey, Christy Jackson, Jeremiah Jordan, Kevin McInerney, Ward Roberts, Ashley Targgart, John Coffman, Alexa Havins

2 Responses to “JOSHUA (2006) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. Dude, play the movie on your computer and use a screen capture for stills — that’s what I do, and it’s so much more illegal.

    EFF THE MAN!

    • goregirl Says:

      Yeah, that would be a sensible suggestion but we (by “we” I mean my husband) built our computer and didn’t put a dvd drive in. We never watch films on the computer, but it didn’t occur to me there might be other reasons to have a dvd drive. We’ll rectify that eventually, but in the meantime I’ve got to snatch my picks online.

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