Nicholas McCarthy (director)
15 March 2019 (released)
13 March 2019
To be blunt, The Prodigy doesn’t present anything new and for the majority saunters a very well-worn path. But credit where credit is due it is done very well and is successful in that it should keep the viewer interested for the duration.
A pre-title sequence sets things up after which we are in a domestic setting as Sarah and John Blume’s (Taylor Schilling and Peter Mooney) son Miles (Jackson Robert Scott) begins to display aptitudes and intelligence well beyond his years.
At first, it’s something of a delight as the family revel in the child’s skills, with jokey exchanges, staring games etc. There’s a hint that he is different in other ways being distant from other children of his own age. Nevertheless, the years progress until he reaches eight and that’s when the film starts to roll out the jumps and the tension.
Miles begins to act oddly speaking in a foreign language he could never have known while asleep. He has no memories of this nor of him almost killing his baby-sitter and later beating a fellow pupil with a wrench almost as big has he is.
These actions force the family to call on professional help from psychologist Dr Arthur Jacobson (Colm Feore). The family splinters as old issues come back to plague John that could have a bearing now. Shrinks are called in to help and there are revelations…and the dog starts to get nervous around him.
The clues are picked up and a plan to deal with the situation is set, that starts to unravel leading to a denouement that’s not much of a surprise but intrigues. Not that it is set up for a sequel but who could appear!
Writer Jeff Buhler and director Nicholas McCarthy have produced a perfectly competent horror/ thriller that balances both equally. Though some scenes go on too long thus draining the tension. It’s a tricky thing to master consistently though they hit the nail on the head in a cellar sequence.
Just as tricky to get right are evil kids as they can sometimes appear just really creepy rather than exuding any real dread. Jackson Robert Scott isn’t bad though he’s more towards the former than the latter when required to be menacing. It may be unfair to compare them too much but the recent Hole in the Ground was a masterclass on getting malevolence out of a child.