Directed by: #NicholasMcCarthy
Written by: #JeffBuhler
Even if you are not a parent yourself, it's not hard to imagine that most parents would do absolutely anything for their kids. Even if their child has been possessed by an evil psychotic entity. There must be hundreds of parents that can relate to that situation, right?
In The Prodigy, Sarah (Schilling) and her husband John (Mooney) are happily married and expecting their first child. Finally, the magical day comes when they can welcome their new baby boy into the world, and he's perfect (her words). Unfortunately, this glorious occasion happens to occur at the same moment that a sadistic serial killer is killed by police during a raid on his house, after his latest victim escapes his clutches and leads them to him. As these two events align, the miracle of child birth is then turned into something much more sinister.
From that day on, young Miles (Scott) begins to show signs of remarkable intelligence from a very early age, but also alarming displays of disturbing behaviour, tormenting babysitters and dogs to name but a few examples. Thus, Sarah and her husband are driven to their wits’ end trying to do what is best for their son, all whilst living in constant fear of him.
The film delivers some good, believable performances all round, especially Schilling who puts in a convincing turn as the desperate mother who will sacrifice just about anything for her son. But the real star is Jackson Robert Scott as Miles, who grabs the creepy child role with both hands and runs with it. Having gone from being terrorised by Pennywise in the latest IT film, here Scott turns on the terror himself and dials the creepiness all the way up to eleven. You’re never quite sure whether innocent or malevolent Miles is at the surface and when the evil is obvious, it's easy to forget that this is a child actor giving you those demented looks.
Director Nicholas McCarthy, who has already established himself as a dab hand at horror with his previous films The Pact and At the Devil's Door, uses the camera and shadows relatively well to draw out the tension and scares without making us wait too long, however too often they can be seen coming a mile off. And while there are a few jumps here and there, the film unfortunately is not that terrifying. Apparently, a scene had to be re-edited because it was considered too much during test screenings, but maybe they would have been better leaving it in. The film also starts strong but peaks too early then has nowhere to go, as the audience gets all the answers long before the characters do, which leaves nothing to twist on or build up to.
The film does entertain but will probably leave quite a few horror fans unsatisfied. With some good performances which do help keep it somewhat grounded despite its premise, The Prodigy is a decent film that does provide some suspenseful moments and chills, but ultimately won't send you scuttling behind the sofa.