There are kids who are adorable, and kids who just gets on your nerve. Joshua gets filed under the latter, with a creepy look to boot. No offense to child actor Jacob Kogan who gets the titular role, but when he's brooding with that psychotic glint in the eye, you just want to throw him into a cage and toss the key out of the window.
But this demonic kid pales in comparison to The Omen's Damien, although both will score high marks for their diabolical scheming mind. The latter is the devil incarnate, but Joshua turns out to be your atypical child who feels threatened by the coming of a new born sibling. You know, the jealous rage that permeates as they perceive the lack of attention and love bestowed upon them. Dad Brad Cairn (Sam Rockwell) used to be his best buddy, but Joshua feels that his own lack of athleticism might be that barrier between them, and given his personal preference for the arts like the fondness for dark musical pieces on his piano. Mom Abby (Vera Farmiga) on the other hand, turns out to be a nervous wreck, which works to Joshua's advantage in pushing the right buttons. It's revenge of the neglected kid basically, but without the Devil's direct helping hand.
The movie tried to be creepy with the employment of usual shock tactics seen in most horror movies, and they do feel a little out of place here, especially when it tries to position itself as a psychological thriller. It's nothing very cerebral about it, and for the most parts, its extremely slow pace brings about a sense of frustration, especially when plot loopholes, or irrational character behaviour that you'd come not to expect, gets so blatantly glossed over, thinking that audiences are idiots.
You can't help but to feel that the story development was too contrived as incidents happen too conveniently, with nary any actual resolution except toward the inevitable ending. There's nothing chilling about it, except that you now realize that smart kids do become a nightmare when they put their noodle to the test of outwitting, outplaying and outlasting their parents. Perhaps the only saving grace here is Sam Rockwell's performance as the dad who's trying to figure everything out, and at the same time protecting the new offspring from the clutches of her now demented brother.
But seriously, all Joshua requires is a good long drawn spanking from the slipper, out of the public view of course.