A mother tries to find out the truth about her son Miles strange and violent behaviour…only to be horrified when she discovers the truth…
When you are setting your film to be a mystery, you can approach it from two angles, I believe. The first, is that the audience and the characters onscreen find out the same information story-wise at the same time, or the second, where the audience knows more than the characters and you watch them essentially play catch-up.
The Prodigy, written by Jeff Buhler, takes the later approach and I felt the wrong one.
Almost from the beginning we, the audience, know what has happened, we know where the story is going to go and, if we are being truthful can see the end sort of coming before it gets there.
If the film film had kept information from the audience, only letting us know when the characters onscreen find our, the film would have probably worked better. But because the audience knows pretty much from the beginning what is going on, it can take you out the film. As a result, when the film should be unsettling and creepy, you find yourself ticking off which films this film borrows ideas from. I’ll mention one film only, the others I’ll let you discover for yourself, but The Omen was an obvious influence.
Now, a film being derivative doesn’t always mean it can’t work. It may not be original, but it can still be entertaining. But sadly The Prodigy disappoints here too due to some frankly bizarre behaviour from Sarah, the mother. When someone mentions possible abuse, she basically turns on her husband. And her decisions in the final act really defy belief.
But even with story decisions, it’s not a complete disaster. Director Nicholas McCarthy does manage to create a couple of good jump scenes which work well, though perhaps the one which would have worked best, one which owes at least a nod to the Mario Bava film Shock (this isn’t a spoiler as it was in one of the trailers too!).
The cast are okay. Jackson Robert Scott plays Miles and is really good in the role, both playing the sinister side and the more child-like. Taylor Schilling plays Sarah and is okay, as is Peter Mooney as her husband John. Colm Feore plays an expert who tries to help, leading to one of the most twisted scenes in the film, which was very well done. There’s a small role too for Brittany Allen as well.
The score from Joesph Bishara is quite effective, the film is well shot and is never dull, but just predictable.
I went in to see The Prodigy knowing very little about it, aside from seeing a trailer. But if you know the horror genre you will work it out fairly quickly. If you don’t then you may get more enjoyment out of it.
Rating: ** out of 5