An example of how a well-executed movie can still leave you disappointed
Talulah always knew there was something wrong with the boy. It’s a part of dogs’ nature to have a nose for that sort of things. However, the boy’s parents are considerably slower on the revelation.
To be fair, it is not their fault. Sarah (Taylor Schilling) and John (Peter Mooney) love their son, 8-year-old Miles (Jackson Robert Scott), as much as any parent would. Not many parenting books can unpack the risks of a child’s body being shared by a deceased serial killer, let alone provide a step-by-step guide to help the child in that situation.
So, naturally, they were not too concerned when Miles spoke Hungarian in his sleep, which they initially thought was gibberish, or when he started asking for paprika on all of his meals. It is not their fault that a serial killer died at the same moment their baby was born.
Miles eventually beats a classmate to death with a wrench, which is more concerning to his parents. Still, nothing that a good psychologist and some loving and caring parents can’t fix, right? Wrong.
Talulah knows better — she can sense the evil presence in Miles’ body. She consistently growls when that “other thing” is near. She stares at the boy out of suspicion. Too bad that Talulah cannot tell her parents about Miles and the evil presence. Too bad she cannot help Sarah and John see what is going on with Miles.
Too bad that Miles found that pair of garden shears, too.
Clear direction and moody, effective cinematography cannot quite rescue this horror movie from some confounding clichés that were present throughout the movie.
“The Prodigy” mistakenly led viewers to think that the movie will go above the genre when the parents realize relatively early on that there is something not right with their son. However, they then proceed to make nearly every bad choice to enable the horror to progress forward.
The reason this is an issue is because the movie’s story is not exactly original. The movie fits into the “Bad Seed” horror subgenre well. It is right next to the movie “Orphan,” and many others, albeit with some hiccups of its own. To say those clichés make it an original movie would be like giving credit to Vanilla Ice for the song “Under Pressure.”
Please note the movie is not terrible. It is apparent throughout the movie that director Nicholas McCarthy and cinematographer Bridger Nielson have worked together regularly. The movie excels at having a seamless use of imagery that establishes the tone and conveys important information.
However, the opening sequence reveals too much information, which leaves the audience to sit and wait for the evil presence to emerge from Miles. The way it is presented through thoughtful matching of images shows promise.
The movie’s atmospheres are soaking in dark and poisonous shadows. The performances of all the characters are solid throughout the movie. Schilling and Mooney are a believable couple that is facing something unimaginable and truly horrible. Scott’s performance is truly outstanding in the demanding role.
Unfortunately, the characters’ terrible decisions seem more forced for plot purposes than anything else. The decisions also make it nearly impossible for there to be tension or surprises. The movie also relies on jump scares a lot. It does delve into darker plot lines than most horror movies do, but it still is not anything different.
However, in all fairness, the real reason I might have a worse opinion of the movie is because the dog dies.