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The Good Son is a 1993 film starring Macaulay Culkin and a pre-Lord of the Rings Elijah Wood. The film was directed by Joseph Ruben, previously known for such films as The Stepfather (1987) and Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)
It is about Henry Evans, played by Macaulay, a psychopathic kid terrorizing his cousin, Mark (Elijah Wood). Mark tries incredibly hard to convince his family that Henry is psychotic and evil, a fact that should be noticed even if you're three miles away; when that doesn't work, Mark tries to stop Henry from getting worse, but fails to do so...
The movie was critically hated, being called a thoroughly creepy, unpleasant experience. The movie was a modest box office hit. It had a relatively small production budget and earned about 60,5 million dollars in the worldwide market. About 45 million of these dollars came from the United States market, where it was the 31st most successful film of its year. Elijah Wood won a Saturn Award for his performance in this film.
- Adults Are Useless: Really, all the signs are there but not one adult sees how off Henry is. When Mark points this out, he is labeled the crazy one.
- Ax Crazy: Henry.
- Big Damn Heroes: Mark tackles Henry when he tries to throw a big rock on his own mother, Susan.
- Bittersweet Ending: Yes, yes, we all know that Susan and Mark both survive this experience, but what makes it feel bittersweet is that Mark wonders what would happen if Susan could make the choice again, as well as them both being quite mentally scarred from this experience, gives you this feeling of hard years to come.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Even if they're children.
- Book Ends: The movie starts and ends with Mark standing on a large rocky hill.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Henry.
- Cassandra Truth: No one believes Mark when he tries to tell how twisted his cousin is.
- Chekhov's Gun: Well, more like Chekhov's Cliff.
- Creepy Child: Henry.
- Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: Henry actually manipulates Mark's psychologist, who should obviously be capable of telling how a psychologically disturbed child with no empathy acts.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The reason Henry drowned his brother in the bath was because he had Henry's rubber duck.
- Enfant Terrible: Again, Henry.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Brutally averted. Even this trope was averted with Henry Evans. Maybe this is a possible reason why the movie was so hated...
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Much of the reason why Henry seeks to eliminate Mark, is because he doesn't understand why Mark isn't just like him. Both have experienced death in their own way. His talk with Mark on the matter says it all.
Mark: Do you know what you did?
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Henry.
- Gilligan Cut: A pretty depressing example occurs at the beginning, when Mark is sitting by the bed of his terminally ill mother, repeating desperately that she won't die because he won't let her. Then it cuts to her funeral.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: Mark wears a blue jacket and Henry wears a red jacket.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: The first sign of Henry's true nature is that he smokes and gets Mark to smoke as well.
- Hollywood Density: Henry tries to kill his sister by hurling her onto thin ice, where she immediately falls through. However, several adults trying to save her easily walk on the ice and need massive axes to chip it open mere seconds later.
- Kick the Dog: Henry shoots and kills a dog with a nail crossbow.
- Kids Are Cruel: Henry for the sixth time.
- Lack of Empathy: Henry for the seventh time, which makes him extremely Trope Overdosed. In particular when he asks Mark about how his mother looked when she died and described how his brother looked and felt after he was a corpse.
- Literal Cliff Hanger: Henry shoves his mother off a cliff and tries to finish her off with a rock to break her attempts to climb back up. Susan manages to pull herself back up just as Mark attacks Henry and both boys go over the side, forcing her to try and save them by catching them.
- Manipulative Bastard: Henry.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Make one guess.
- Obviously Evil: Henry
- Offing the Offspring: Susan ultimately has to choose between which child will live when she can only rescue one (because, you know, it's such a hard choice to make)... and she lets Henry die.
- Playing Against Type: Macaulay Culkin. Big time.
- The film was probably made for that entire purpose. (Some people wanted to see evil Macaulay Culkin).
- Played with in the Latin American name for the film, El ángel malvado ("The evil angel"). What's the name for the Home Alone series? Mi pobre angelito ("My poor little angel")
- Precision F-Strike: Yes, The Home Alone kid really did say "Don't fuck with me."
- Self-Made Orphan: Henry tries this on Susan in the end. It epically backfires..
- Shout-Out: When they meet the first time Henry gives Mark a white mask made of paper and glue.
- What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?: Many critics decried the casting of Macaulay Culkin in the role thanks to his kid-friendly Home Alone series, many children hero-worshiped him and marketing research indicated extreme interest by children in the film entirely because of Culkin's presence. If the number of anecdotes by people mentioning this film gave them nightmares indicates, they probably saw it anyway in spite of the R-rating.
- People don't like it when you weaponize the break from Contractual Purity.