Grabbing for The Jugular

TITLE: THE GOOD SON

DIRECTOR: JOSEPH RUBEN

WRITER: IAN McEWAN

THE BOTTOM LINE: Macauley Culkin plays against type in a no-frills thriller that grippingly evokes primal fears.

Joseph Ruben's apparent mission in life is to turn the commonplaces of family dysfunction into worst-case scenarios. Everyone at some time or another imagines comfortable domesticity going radically wrong. Ruben gives this uneasy feeling -- that we all may be no more than a mischance or two away from reading our names in a tabloid headline -- grabby if sometimes almost comically simple life on the screen. In Ruben's The Stepfather, that eponymous figure...

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