By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
I do a lot of flying for work (yes, I am sad to report that movieboozer.com has not made me and my compatriots independently wealthy), most recently the long jaunt to Los Angeles from the Midwest. And every once in awhile, I get seated next to a parent and their little bundle of joy. Almost always it’s the sleep-deprived and painfully contemporary-educated parent’s fault, but in all cases, I know I’m pretty much screwed when I see those cherubic cheeks in my row or any row 3-5 on either side.
Anyway, I guess I’m trying to say I’d rather have a murder-child in my house for life than spend 4 hours next to a normal one on a plane ever again.
The true face of horror.
The Prodigy stars Piper from Orange is the New Black and Hey Is That Ben Affleck Oh Wait No It’s Not from TV, I think, as the parents of Georgie from It, who’s picked up some seriously bad habits and/or the soul of a serial killer when he got borned (don’t worry about spoilers, the movie makes this abundantly clear pretty much immediately).
The Prodigy is slickly-produced, the kind of competent, well-budgeted production that lets an ambitious young cinematographer show some visual verve without ever quite connecting the thematic dots those visuals suggest exist.
Director Nicholas McCarthy also has an idea for one good jump scare that he deploys several times without too much of a diminishing effect. The overall package is that of a run-of-the-mill studio horror film that pushes the same buttons as an Orphan or Mama or something of that ilk, just less good. But, you know, baseline.
Still better than that plane kid.
The Prodigy demonstrates a pretty lackluster approach to most of its scares, though- happy to borrow for other, better and worse films for scenes like: creepy, glitchy baby monitor footage a la Paranormal Activity or a camera pull into a door then a hand busts through it a la every mediocre horror movie ever.
The principal sin of The Prodigy is it never takes the interesting choice or direction. It’s thoroughly unambitious, always choosing to plow straight forward where an interesting twist or psychological angle to the film could have added a wrinkle that would have taken it to the next level and maybe even made it, you know, good. The perception vs. reality potential here was not insignificant, and instituting some doubt in the audience could have, you know, added tension. But no.
Still better than that plane kid.
The one element that you could possibly characterize as a twist is given dead away by the way the scene is framed and paced, and leaves an open and sequel-thirsty ending in the most predictable way.
In general every characters’ downfall is predicated on stupidity and lack of communication. There’s a reason killer kid flicks are fairly few and far between despite all the rich thematic potential in fearing that wailing, purely selfish creature you somehow made. Kids are pretty easy to defeat unless you’re this dumb.
Fuck it, still better than that plane kid.
The Prodigy is a lay-up attempt of a horror film that never aspires to be any more than exactly what the movie trailer promises. That may scratch an itch and that may not.
The Prodigy (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every creepy chin-down stare or smile
Take a Drink: every time Talulah (the dog) is on screen
Take a Drink: for Hungarian tendencies
Take a Drink: for every struggle for control
Do a Shot: for every, *ahem*, transition