“The Prodigy” stars Taylor Schilling, Jackson Robert Scott, Colm Feore, Brittany Allen, Peter Mooney, and Oluniké Adeliyi. Released on February 8, 2019, the film is about a mother who discovers that her son is possessed by an evil entity.
The film is directed by Nicholas McCarthy, who also directed “The Pact” and “At the Devil’s Door”. Last month, the horror genre got off to a healthy start this year with “Escape Room”, so now it’s this movie’s turn to keep the trend going. Like “Miss Bala”, this film left me speculating whether or not I should see it. On the one hand, it could wind up being a surprisingly decent horror film. On the other hand, it might wind up being another film that favors cheap scares over storytelling. But, since I’m always in a mood for some creepy shenanigans, I wound up seeing it anyway. I mean, it couldn’t be any worse than “Miss Bala”, right?
The film's story is a combination of two major horror tropes: the bad seed trope and the possession trope. Mainly the film focuses on the former because why the heck not? Here’s something that I want to get out of the way first. If you’ve seen many other films that deal with bad seeds, such as “The Omen”, you’ve practically seen this movie. Even with the possession subplot, it wasn’t able to escape from a bunch of horror cliches that we dealt with since the beginning. It’s easy to dismiss it because of how much they overweigh its below-average story. However, there were actually some pretty tolerable elements that help steer the film away from its blandness. One of those elements is the cast, particularly Taylor Schilling and Jackson Robert Scott. Schilling delivered a convincing performance as Sarah, but the main attraction of the film is actually young Jackson Robert Scott as Miles, a young boy with a gift of intelligence and a thirst for murder. Fun fact, Scott is known for his role as Georgie from the 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s “It”. Sounds like someone is a fan of the genre. Let’s just say that Scott’s portrayal will make you think twice about your kids and their behaviors. He's just that good. Based on his filmography, McCarthy is no stranger to the horror genre, and it shows in “The Prodigy”. While its scares were as wooden as plywood, I have to appreciate his attempt at maintaining its intended tone throughout the film and providing an atmosphere that’ll make people’s skin crawl.
Overall, “The Prodigy” isn’t smart enough to balance the horror tropes with its storytelling. Despite the performances and its atmospheric setting, the film offered nothing new to the genre that’ll get audiences in their seats. It’s far from the worst horror movie of 2019 since it had some moments that made it somewhat watchable, but it’s something that I won’t remember in a couple of weeks.