Nicholas McCarthy (“The Pack” if you have never seen it I strongly recommend it), the director of the new bad-seed movie, “The Prodigy” takes us in a different direction with
a tormented boy.
I was nearly in the dark about this movie just seen the poster so going in I was a little confused with the intro playing like two different films much like “The Cabin in the Woods”.
The title character is born at the same instant that a SWAT team guns down a serial killer of women (he has a fetish for severed hands), The boy, Miles, shows an intelligence that’s “off the charts,” but by the time he’s 8 (and played by Jackson Robert Scott), he has mangled a babysitter and a student who crossed him and turned the family dog into a piñata, among other things. His mother, Sarah (Taylor Schilling), consults with all the right people and makes all the right loving-mother moves, but the kid is persistent. He even freaks out himself. In some shots his face is split — light and dark, life and death. Scary.
A scene in which the whimpering Miles settles into bed beside his mom and his hand inches up along her bare shoulder is eerie beyond reason — and eerier still because Sarah lies paralyzed, eyes open, her face conveying an irreducible mixture of terror, disgust, and despair. Grisly revelations are cruelly drawn out but then come quickly that even if you’re prepared, you’re not. She’s deeply worried about her son; he’s speaking foreign languages in his sleep, strange things are happening around him. Could this be supernatural or something else?
A mother who can’t give up on the idea that her child can be reached, even amid the mayhem is powerful. Her husband (Peter Mooney), who grew up with an abusive father, shuts down almost completely in the face of his son’s wayward spirit — he tries to help in his own way but it ultimately falls to mom to reconcile things that can’t be reconciled, even if it means becoming a monster herself. The climax, in which Sarah engages the one woman (Brittany Allen) who managed to escape the killer is so exquisitely staged and acted that for a few minutes you forget the whole wannabe-horror-franchise context.
Taylor Schilling joins Toni Collette (Hereditary) and Essie Davis (The Babadook-which I was not a fan of) in the group of disintegrating-horror-movie moms. She’s is amazing.
Cole Feore from “Storm of the Century” plays the psychiatrists and he nails it such a brilliant actor. The whole scene with him one-on-one with the menacing kid is rather graphic with the kid getting under his skin.
Granted this is an early year horror release which is usually the dumping ground for such films but this one is rather good and surprising.
Most of the jumps scares here involve misdirection. The ending was a little disappointing they spend a lot of time with a set up and you’re hoping for a different outcome but then a mother’s love always prevails. Its really quite chilling it is set up giving us a bait and switch sort of cliff hanger ending.
The anti-Omen finale seems a bit far fetched but then again parents do the craziest things for their children, just reference “Pet Sematary” for a refresher. “The Prodigy” is an above average horror film driven by “killer” performances.
R (for violence, disturbing and bloody images, a sexual reference and brief graphic nudity)
the violence here involves a kid so it’s even more disturbing
the sexual reference again comes from a kid and is quite graphic
Graphic nudity (Male nudity) the camera is placed in such a way we don’t see the fully matured mans privates but we do see an up close shot of a new born baby boy.