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Movie Review: “The Prodigy”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 2/8/2019

Theatrical Release: 2/8/2019

Synopsis

When a young woman escapes her captor and contacts local law enforcement, a unit is dispatched which ends up killing the serial killer. At the exact moment of the killer’s death, a happily married couple gives birth to a baby boy. While Miles seems like an ordinarily healthy baby boy, the new parents soon learn that he has extraordinary intelligence. He begins walking and talking much earlier than any child should, and in the following years, he begins to require advanced education.

His parents have chalked it up to Miles (Jackson Robert Scott) being a genius, but when he begins doing things that they cannot explain, they reach out to a specialist at Miles’ school. They believe there is a dark supernatural presence within the boy. It is violent and it is smart. Refusing to give up on her son, Sarah (Taylor Schilling) tries to determine what the supernatural entity is, as well as what it wants. Unfortunately, her search for answers will not go unnoticed by the dangerous entity within her son.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Jackson Robert Scott (+8pts)

John (-4pts)

The Entity (+5pts)

Mother & Son (-4pts)

Taylor Schilling (+4pts)

Edward Scarka (-3pts)

movie-review-prodigy

Pro: Jackson Robert Scott (+8pts)

Historically, horror filmmakers have struggled with finding child actors that can pull off their roles. In recent years, filmmakers have done a much better job of finding talented young actors for their movies. With that in mind, Jackson Robert Scott did a really good job with this movie. I remember thinking he did a good job in It, but this movie provided a lot more for him to work with, as he was a far more significant character here.

In this movie, he was essentially playing two characters in the same body and I thought he did a great job of transitioning between the two. Miles was an innocent little boy in some scenes, and he was a creepy, murderous psychopath in others. The young actor made the two characters feel believable, and both felt like very distinct characters. A lot of the movie’s success depended on Jackson's ability to play this character, and he did a really good job with it. His emotion felt forced in a couple of scenes, but I thought this was the exception, not the rule. He was easily the best part of this movie, and it left me excited to see the young actor in future movies.

movie-review-prodigy

Con: John (-4pts)

John (Peter Mooney) was Miles’ father, and he was easily one of the weakest aspects of the movie. In some scenes, the character was just gone and gave me the impression that he did not care about his son. In other scenes, the character went from despising the kid to suddenly crying and telling Miles that he loved him. You could say that John was just scared and really loved his son deep down, but that was not how the character came across. The character just felt emotionally inconsistent. I do not know if the fault lies with the actor for not making the character believable or with the director for not guiding the actor properly. Either way, the character did not work for me.

movie-review-prodigy

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Pro: The Entity (+5pts)

If you are reading this review, then chances are you have seen a horror movie about a possession. Taking it a step further, chances are you have seen a horror movie about the possession of a child. It sometimes seems like those are the only horror movies that today’s filmmakers know how to make. Fortunately, this one was different. Yes, it was about a supernatural entity taking over a child, but it was not your typical possession.

The entity in this movie was not a demon. Sure, the characters still consulted a specialist that was the equivalent of the priest role in most demonic possession movies, but this movie definitely went in a different direction with the story. The scene in which the boy went up against the specialist was both messed up and hilarious. The entity worked so well because it was similar to a possession story, but it allowed the filmmakers to go in unique directions with each of the tropes that we are familiar with.

movie-review-prodigy

Con: Mother & Son (-4pts)

I liked the movie, but it ended up being more creepy than scary. Part of this was due to who the main character was in relation to Miles. The main character was Sarah—Miles’ mother—and without giving anything away, both Miles and the entity benefited from having Sarah around. In other words, while Sarah was certainly freaked out, I never felt like she was in any real danger. Did she live through the events of the story? You will have to see the movie to find out, but I was never afraid for her life. This took a lot of potential fear out of the movie, and while it was definitely creepy, it rarely felt “scary”.

movie-review-prodigy

Pro: Taylor Schilling (+4pts)

As creepy as the boy was, most of the movie’s emotion came from Taylor Schilling’s reactions to whatever the boy was doing. This was not a performance that will stick with audiences after the movie is over, but it was effective at getting the audience to feel what Sarah was feeling. Unlike my issue with John, I understood Sarah’s love for her son, which made me understand her actions at the end of the movie. The character of John was proof that, had Taylor Schilling not been able to pull off her character, the entire end of the movie would not have been believable. Fortunately, Taylor Schilling gave an effective performance that made me care about the fate of Miles, which was crucial in making me care about the events of this story.

movie-review-prodigy

Con: Edward Scarka (-3pts)

Without giving anything away, the movie kind of spoiled itself. The movie started by showing the serial killer Edward Scarka (Paul Fauteux). This meant got to see what Edward wanted, which in turn, gave away a key reveal that came later in the movie. We saw all this in the very beginning of the movie, but then had to pretend we did not know the answers to Sarah’s questions. It did not hurt the movie significantly, but I thought that Sarah’s investigation and realization would have been much more impactful if we had not seen Edward Scarka’s scene in the beginning of the movie.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-prodigy

Grade: B- (81pts)

The Prodigy looked like a typical horror movie on the surface, but it ended up having more to it. It was typical in the sense that it was about a child being possessed by a supernatural entity, but it had its differences. I do not want to say exactly what those differences were to avoid spoilers, but it was not your typical demonic possession story. This let the filmmakers tell a story that hit familiar tropes, but ultimately went in unique directions.

I felt that the filmmakers were wrong to show Edward Scarka’s story in the beginning, as it took away the opportunity for the audience to feel like they were going along for the ride with Sarah during her investigation. Instead, the filmmakers forced the audience in having to pretend they did not know the answers Sarah was looking for, which definitely eliminated some impact once things were revealed. The movie also did not benefit by having Sarah be beneficial to both Miles and the entity within him, because I never felt like Sarah was in any real danger. That all being said, I liked the movie and I thought Jackson Robert Scott did a fantastic job playing Miles and the entity within him.

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