Movie Review: The Prodigy

By Jessica Jones, Staff Writer
[Orion; 2019]
Rating: 3/10

It’s said that horror is the easiest genre of film to execute, and The Prodigy proves that statement to be true. This movie is full of rushed pacing and idle writing, relying on the simple conventions of pop-up horror to scare the audience. If you’re looking for an intense, on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller, this is not the scary movie for you.

Read more: Movie Review: The House That Jack Built

At the beginning of the story, we meet our new mother, Sarah (Taylor Schilling), who gives birth to a freakishly smart boy with uniquely colored eyes. Our prodigy, Miles (Jackson Robert Scott), grows up without any real human connection other than that of his parents and in turn ends up weird and murderous. One night, his mom hears him talking in his sleep, chanting a demonic sounding spell over and over again. She records him and hands off the tape to his therapist, who, with the help of a fellow doctor, discovers that Miles’ body is being taken over by another soul with lots of negative energy. If it’s not obvious, this story is just another version of a kid getting possessed by a demonic entity, following the same script we’ve seen time and time again. The overall concept for this film isn’t bad; the problem is that the best part of the story is reserved for the third act. Had this film been more cohesive, the ending would’ve been a captivating climax instead a plot twist that we all saw coming.

The Prodigy moves along quickly, hurrying the main story and neglecting plot points that would otherwise have potential. Lacking a smooth, genuine progression, the boring sections drag on and the important parts get lost in the numerous jump scares. Tension builds and leads the audience to a fakeout scare before quickly changing the direction of the story, never really giving the viewer time to process or infer what could happen next, which is disappointing. An excellent horror film should include not only a great deal of prolonged suspense but would also leave the viewer with something to ponder at the end of the film. But with the way this movie ends, you’d think that its directors already have a sequel written.

Nearly all of the spooks in the film rely on poorly-timed jump scares and gore. The acting is subpar and unconvincing, especially with the ill-placed lines of corny dialogue. Horror films have endless possibilities when it comes to camera and art direction, and the creators of this film took the easy way out by choosing a simple blue overtone and too many establishing shots – yawn.

The best word to describe this movie is underdeveloped. There is so much potential within the concept of The Prodigy, however, the way in which the story is arranged feels as if they were working on a strict deadline and had to cut out key elements in order to finish it in time. Jump scares and potty-mouthed children shouldn’t be the only things that garner reactions out of an audience. If that’s the level we’re stooping to in terms of horror films, as Simon Cowell would say, “It’s a no from me”.

Watch the trailer here:

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