Kids are the worst.
Synopsis: A mother concerned about her young son’s disturbing behavior thinks something supernatural may be affecting him. (Orion Pictures)
Starring: Taylor Schilling, Jackson Robert Scott, and Peter Mooney
Writer: Jeff Buhler
Director: Nicholas McCarthy
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 92mins
Kids are the worst. Everybody knows that. They have often played a prominent role in horror films because there’s just something about them that makes them inherently creepy. Countless films have managed to tapped into this fact and The Prodigy was no different. Suffice it to say that the film as a whole isn’t that much different from most horror films for that matter. While that’s not necessarily bad, it’s not necessarily good either as its derivative nature takes away and element of surprise from the plot. While there may be some interesting pieces here, this all makes for a not overly scary film.
The story treads familiar ground and was about a woman named Sarah (Schilling) and her son Miles (Scott). Miles was quite an impressive and gifted child (hence the title) but there was something about him that never seemed quite right. Struggling to even conceive a child, perhaps Sarah and her husband John (Mooney) were a little oblivious to that fact and was also something that the film would stretch out a little longer than it probably should have. However, the growing amount of evidence that pointed to something being wrong was hard to ignore though acceptance would be a different matter.
The truth was unsurprisingly ridiculous and when things finally got going, it just got even more ridiculous from there. Choosing to focus on Sarah instead of Miles, the film missed a huge opportunity to go even further with the root of its horror elements as it would have made for a more interesting story. In other words, not much really happens other than plenty of subtle foreshadowing and a few lame jump scares before becoming a complete mess that didn’t work more often than not.
While this may seem like it is all doom and gloom, there are still some bright spots here as the film still managed to be somewhat entertaining in spite of everything else. The relationship between Sarah and Miles was somewhat compelling to watch and helped to sell the story, including an unsurprising twist at the end that may mean something though will likely mean nothing at the end of the day. Ultimately, with a running time clocking in at just over 90 minutes, the film did not wear out its welcome and is done before you know it.
The best part of the film was its performances, especially Schilling and Scott as Sarah and Miles respectively. The film relied heavily on their mother-son relationship and for the most part, it worked despite its derivative nature and all the mediocre dialog. Schilling was somewhat compelling to watch while carrying the bulk of the emotional weight. Child actors more often than not are annoying but Scott overcame this by delivering a surprisingly layered performance. It was just a shame that the film did not give him more of a chance, however, his time will surely come.
Overall, The Prodigy is nowhere near one of the best horror films thanks to a ridiculously derivative and clichéd story full of mediocre dialog which shouldn’t come as a much of a surprise. Despite this, it still managed to be somewhat entertaining and is ultimately done before you know it. All in all, not the worst time to be had.