By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
As far as “evil child” horror films go, The Prodigy is definitely not the smartest or most original; however, it does have an inventive spin on a possession story and has a genuinely creepy performance by Jackson Robert Scott who portrays the title character. There honesty isn’t much to say about this entertaining and tense exercise in horror. It delivers a mix of solid scares and poor attempts at such, and also features some of the more intelectually challenged parental characters that I gave ever seen in the horror genre. I might be a little too generous with my 3 star rating, but The Prodigy does have its finer moments.
Jackson Robert Scott stars as Miles, a child who has always been smart, but one who has always needed special care and education. As the boy grows old enough for education, it is brought to the attention of his parents Sarah (Taylor Schilling) and John (Peter Mooney) that he would be better off at a special school for highly intelligent children. Though this seems to help at first, Miles eventually displays behavior which makes his parents believe that he suffers from a mental illness. As things continue to escalate, both Sarah and John grow increasingly fearful of what Miles is becoming.
Writren by Jeff Buhler and directed by Nicholas McCarthy, The Prodigy does attempt and succeed at a certain level of originality, but is definitely restained by the weaknesses of its writing. The obvious attempts at scares, mixed with the ridiculous decisions of some of the characters make the whole experience feel somewhat incredulous. It strikes me that the filmmakers, in their attempts to do something more original, took some unnecessary and not so smart risks with their story and characters.
Even though the filmmakers and some of their characters make some questionable choices, they manage to deliver a film that one wants to see everything come to fruition. I know that might sound odd, but I was oddly compelled to see how everything plays out. All of the cast members perform well with Jackson Robert Scott being the true standout. Taylor Schilling is also great as Miles’s stressed mother. The movie also stars Colm Feore who portrays a special doctor who has studied and researched other cases similar to Miles.
And though this film certainly has its faults, it has enough effective cinematic moments which make it watchable. I honestly wouldn’t recommend seeing this movoe theatrically, but it is worth at least one watch at home.