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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Review: The Prodigy

Director: Nicholas McCarthy
Screenplay: Jeff Buhler
Year: 2019

With the review of “The Hole in the Ground” still fresh, we return to the topic of children as conductors of horror in movies of this genre. Curiously, the topic of possessions is repeated, although with a very different guest. While in “The Hole in the Ground” a creature was the one responsible, in “The Prodigy” the belief of souls that can remain on Earth inside a different host is used.

In “The Prodigy” Sarah detects an alarming behavior in her son Miles, which might be signaling that an evil and supernatural force has overtaken him. Fearing for her family’s safety, Sarah must choose between her motherly instinct to love and protect Miles, and the need to investigate who or what is causing these dark changes in her son. In this process, she is forced to look for answers in the past, where the lines between perception and reality get frightfully blurry.

As I had previously mentioned in my review of “The Hole in the Ground”, using children as the center to tell a horror story has been very efficient in some movies but has failed in many others. The Prodigy meets the group of those who have failed. In this case, it is a serial killer who takes control of Miles’ body, an eight-year-old kid. No matter how much they try to emphasize the horrible acts of this killer, he is still inside the body of a child, which makes it difficult to feel danger from him. This causes that the scenes in which Miles is presented as a menace to adults become hard to believe and prevents the viewer to immerse in the story. The acting of Jackson Robert Scott (“It”) as Miles did not manage to convince me and I always saw him forced while trying to look eerie. The rest of the cast does an acceptable work with Taylor Schilling (“Orange is the New Black”) as Sarah and Peter Moone (“Camelot”) as Josh, Miles’ parents.

The story of this movie did not manage to captivate me, and I considered it to be unoriginal. In many parts it is predictable and uses too many horror movie clichés, although in most cases they work well, they are the main reason it is so predictable. The better-crafted part is the jump scares, which are present throughout most of the movie, and regularly they meet the purpose, but some are not well placed or well utilized. The decisions the characters make, particularly Miles’ mother, are at best questionable, to not say that they are completely absurd. The dialogs also leave a lot to wish for and are combined with a fast-paced narration, which makes every scene to feel incomplete and badly crafted. In summary, this is poor approach and development of director Nicholas McCarthy (“The Pact”) and screenwriter Jeff Buhler (“The Midnight Meat Train”), with a story that does not reach the audience neither in idea nor execution.

“The Prodigy” is nothing more than a conglomerate of horror movie clichés that have been so overused that they fail to meet its purpose. Together with a poorly constructed plot that most of the time feels incomplete and relies too much upon the acting of Scott, who does not make a convincing character, and makes the movie feels too long, senseless and that will soon fall into obscurity. It is particularly surprising from writer Jeff Buhler, who was in charge of the screenplay for “The Midnight Meat Train” and that we will see if he manages to redeem himself with the remake of “Pet Sematary”, for which he will also be in charge of the screenplay.

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