Blu-ray
Give it a Rent
3 stars
Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
0 Stars
High-Def Extras
1.5 Stars
Bottom Line
Give it a Rent

The Good Son

Street Date:
August 1st, 2017
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
August 7th, 2017
Movie Release Year:
1993
Studio:
Kino
Length:
87 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

In 1993, Macaulay Culkin was a huge box office draw. Home Alone and My Girl were huge successes, both critically and financially, pushing Culkin to super stardom. Culkin's father, who acted as his son's manager, was supposedly very difficult and abusive to others on sets. In the case of The Good Son, Culkin's dad allegedly threatened to pass on Home Alone 2 if Culkin didn't get the part in The Good Son in order to show his son's acting range from light-hearted family star to a cold blooded evil serial killer - all at the age of 12. If those stories are true, the studio said yes, fired the actors, director, and writer, and started a new day with Culkin and father mostly ruling over the creative process. It was a very troubled shoot and the final film wasn't met with much critical praise, but it did make over $60 million on a $17 million budget.

The Good Son centers on a young kid named Mark (Elijah Wood) who just lost his mother and is being brought to live with his Uncle's family for the winter while his dad goes to Japan on business. Luckily, Mark's uncle's family has a kid his age named Henry (Culkin), who on the surface seems like a fun, adventurous young boy. The two hit it off and have a bit of fun doing what boys do. Soon, though, Mark notices Henry's behavior drastically turns evil. Mark tries to tell everyone, including Henry's mother and his therapist, about the disturbing behavior, which includes murdering animals, causing a multi-car pile up, and even killing his family.

In revisiting The Good Son for the first time in 25 years, certain elements of this dark film hold up while others don't. Especially when one considers how difficult it is to balance the performance of an evil child. You don't want to be too corny or too dark. Still, casting Culkin here feels off -- yes, he's a great actor, but at the time, was still quite young and fresh off of the Home Alone charm. Culkin still uses that charm here in The Good Son, which I imagine the studio thought would be creepy with the right music and dialogue, but doesn't really come across as sadistic.

Ultimately, The Good Son feels like it was made with too many hands (and perhaps one too many stage fathers), resulting in a rushed and silly story that didn't follow through on a lot of setups. Mostly the film just shows Henry's descent into more cruelty without a rhyme or reason. In fact, there is no motive or reason for his evil, which I like in certain characters or films, but for this young kid, there is zero set up as to why he is the way he is.

Still, some 25 years later, it's great to see the performances from Wood and Culkin in a film that should've been amazing. I will give to a young Wood and Culkin, though, for doing some of their own stunts on top of the final cliff scene.  

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray

The Good Son comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Kino-Lorber and is Region A Locked. There is an insert booklet for other titles from Kino-Lorber, but no digital download. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case with reversible cover art.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The Good Son comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio that doesn't look particularly great. In fact, if I were to guess I'd say this is an older scan from the DVD era.

Despite being a noticeable upgrade from previous releases, there are abundant flaws. Detail shows freckles on the young actors and textures in the white masks that are used, but most things look flat. Individual hairs are hard to make out, while wider shots don't show a lot of depth.Colors aren't bright or bold really, but rather are on the pale and cooler side. There are exceptions though, particularly in the warm palette of the interiors of the houses. Black levels are not deep or inky, but the skin tones look mostly natural. There are some issues with banding and dirt and debris crop up from time to time. Again, the image is an upgrade from previous home video releases, but it's not top quality.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix and sounds very good. Effects are realistic and robust, whether it be windows breaking into shards, or the loudness and depth of a multi-car crash with a good low end. I was impressed with this 2.0 mix for sure.

Ambient noises of waves crashing, the wind blowing, or leaves rustling all sound great as well. The score always adds to the tension as well as the dramatic role of each scene, and the dialogue is always clear and easy to follow along with. Lastly, there are no, pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

While we don't have a DVD on hand, all of the bonus materials appear to be HD Exclusives. Please see below.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Interview with director Jospeh Ruben and Cinematographer John Lindley (HD, 23 Mins.) - A good interview with the two men as they discuss making the film, shooting on location, working with the young actors, the script changes, and the overall dark material of the story. 

Interview with actor Daniel Hugh Kelly and actress Wendy Crewson (HD, 16 Mins.) - Also a good interview with the actors who mostly talk about working with the kid actors as well as what a hard time everyone had with McCaulay Culkin's father on set. The screenplay and tones of the film are also discussed here.

Interview with actor David Morse (HD, 6 Mins.) - The actor talks about the film for a few minutes, even though he only has a couple of minutes of screen time. He mostly talks about the differences between Wood's family and Culkin's family on set. He also talks about the production problems and how they hired him. 

Trailer (HD, 1 Min.) - Trailer for the film.

Final Thoughts

The Good Son had the potential to be a great, sadistic film, but due to creative differences and Culkin's father, we got the movie that was released. It was hurried and lacked a background or any cohesiveness to the main characters, in that we never get enough time with them to sympathize or relate. Instead, it's a straight-to-the-point type of movie that was solely made the way it was so that everyone could see how Macaulay Culkin could play a villain. Turns out, it was just his Home Alone character set to some creepy music. The video and audio are passable, but not memorable, but the three interviews are worth watching for sure. Worth a Rental. 

Technical Specs

  • 50GB Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD MA 2.0

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH

Supplements

  • Interviews
  • Reversible Art
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

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