The Good Son (1993)

Comments Off on The Good Son (1993) 15 December 2017


Studio: Kino

Theatrical Release: September 24, 1993

Blu Ray Release: August 1, 2017

Director: Joseph Ruben


Review by James Klein

At the time of it’s release, The Good Son promised a Macaulay Culkin film much darker, more sinister than his Home Alone movies or films like Uncle Buck and My Girl, playing the cute little firecracker that he portrayed in several films. I know several people who are nostalgic over The Good Son however I have never seen the movie until now. In fact, aside from knowing Culkin says the F word at some point during the film, I knew very little walking into The Good Son and enjoyed this simplistic but entertaining thriller. 

Elijah Wood co-stars as Mark, a 12 year old boy whose mother has passed away and father (the always bland David Morse) needs to go off to Japan for two weeks to close some deal that he needs done in order for he and his son to live comfortably. Mark is brought to his uncle and aunt’s house whose also still mourning the loss of their baby who died tragically in a bathtub. Happy to have Mark stay with them, the family takes Mark in with open arms while Mark takes a liking to his rambunctious cousin, Henry (Culkin) who happens to be the same age as Mark. 

The two boys play in the woods, break windows, climb up in a tree fort, all while bonding and having fun until Mark starts to notice something a little odd about Henry with his strange sense of humor and violent nature towards animals. Mark soon starts to shy away from this little monster, even threatening to tell his aunt and uncle about Henry’s antics to at which one point Henry cooly replies, “Don’t fuck with me.” 

Henry soon starts to go off the deep end when he tries to poison his family and leads his youngest sister towards the shallow end of an ice pond. Mark knows he must confront Henry somehow before it is too late. 

Much has been said over the years about the ending and while I won’t go into it, the dark climax is one that probably gave this film the R rating at the time of it’s release. I know there are mixed feelings regarding the third act and I think your opinion of the ending depends on if you have children or not. I do not and I enjoyed the ending but certain viewers, may feel different. 

Director Joseph Ruben is no stranger to suspense as he had previously directed The Stepfather and Sleeping With the Enemy, both decent thrillers that are both worth searching out if haven’t been seen. The Good Son has touches of Stand By Me mixed with Alfred Hitchcock (Shadow of a Doubt comes to mind) to give this bleak little film something I thought was different than most thrillers. Set in the winter in a small town in ME, The Good Son has plenty of atmosphere that makes this film stand out from other thrillers. 

While much was talked about regarding Culkin’s performance at the time of its release, I didn’t think he was all that good. He was fine but he just needed to deliver his lines quietly and squint a little. He tries to be menacing but it didn’t work for me. It’s Elijah Wood who gives a strong performance as Mark and it is no wonder who the bigger star is now. 

Kino Lorber’s blu ray release looks pretty darn good. While the colors don’t stand out as well, the picture is sharp. The 2.0 audio track does a serviceable job as the dialog is clear and easy to understand. The blu ray comes with three interviews, the first being with director Ruben who offers some interesting insight on the production of the film. The second is with actors Wendy Crewson and Daniel Hugh Kelly who also talk about some of the issues with the Culkin family, especially the father, Kit Culkin who forced his daughter Quinn to be a part of the movie when she didn’t want to be (this was her last film as of today). The third is with David Morse who mentions he was cast once Gary Sinise dropped out. His interview is rather short which makes sense since he was barely in the film. The only other special feature to note is the theatrical trailer. 

The Good Son is fine, it’s not scary by any means but it held my interest which is more than I can say than the dreck that is out in theaters now. 

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★½☆ 

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