Review: The Prodigy

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: A mother suspects that there is something wrong with her young son after he begins to exhibit shockingly vicious behavior.

REVIEW: When it comes to scary kid flicks, we’ve seen a handful of classic and terrifying tales over the past few decades. Of course, it is not an easy formula to master. While an evil child can certainly be creepy, it all too often feels familiar and routine. THE PRODIGY is a slightly supernatural thriller that follows an obvious path, one that is clear from the very first scene. If you’ve ever seen any movie where a young child may be committing horrific deeds for some reason or another, you’ll know exactly where this is going, scene after scene. While technically not a bad film, it is ultimately a generic and frustratingly dull hour and a half of predictable nonsense.

On the same night a psychopath (Paul Fauteux) is gunned down after his final victim (Brittany Allen) escapes and leads police to his hideout, a loving couple find their dreams of a family coming true. Only minutes apart from the random death of the nut job, Sarah (Taylor Schilling) and her husband John (Peter Mooney) get to bring a brand new son into the world. Early on, their boy Miles is labeled a genius. Yet something is not quite right with the young lad (played by Jackson Robert Scott). As his behavior gets more and more erratic and dangerous, Sarah tries all that she can to figure out what is wrong. Yet the more she learns about Miles, the more that both she and her husband begin to think something is far more horrible than they could have ever imagined.

the prodigy horror taylor schilling jackson robert scott colm feore peter mooney nicholas mccarthy jeff buhler 2019When it comes to originality, there is not a single scene that has much of it. In fact, this feature borrows bits and pieces from THE OMEN to CHILD’S PLAY and everything in between. Every single move the characters make is predictable. We as an audience are left waiting for Sarah and her utterly useless husband John to get with the program. It's also incredibly annoying at how lackadaisical people can be after one kid beats another with a large wrench. This is step by step what you’d expect from this kind of a horror tale, rarely deviating from the basic formula. In fact, the only thing that it has that is unique is a bit of a sadistic edge for a movie like this.

Another positive here are the two leading performances. Taylor Schilling is quite good as a mom put in a terrible position as she tries to figure out what is going on with her son. Even when she makes one really horrendous choice near the end, she was still able to illicit a bit of sympathy. As for young Jackson Robert Scott, the child actor is creepy enough, as well as vulnerable when necessary. However, when they try to make it shocking when his character swears, it is about as far from that as you can get. In fact, it becomes almost laughable and distracting. Of course this is certainly not Scott’s fault, judging from this and his work in IT as Georgie, he’s a solid young actor.

the prodigy taylor schilling horror colm feore jackson robert scott nicholas mccarthy jeff buhler thriller 2019Directed by Nicholas McCarthy and written by Jeff Buhler, this is not a badly shot film. It offers a few interesting visuals, and an attempt to go beyond the typical possession route. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to make anything stand out. The clear nature of it all and the lack of real suspense makes for a routine horror story. In many ways it feels like a patchwork of other films, one without any real scares. On the plus side, considering the supernatural nature of it all, it doesn’t rely on bad special effects. This is a pretty straight forward frightfest with a couple of bloody stabbings and random jump scares. It isn’t heavy on gore, but a movie like this generally doesn’t need to be.

THE PRODIGY is the "scary kid flick" that you’ve seen numerous times before. Sadly it is one without any real thrills. The acting is fine and it is at times visually interesting to look at, but you can see every single moment coming well before it arrives. The one thing that does stand out is that it is unafraid of getting a bit sadistic and cruel. However, that is only one section of the film, and probably the only thing that is actually slightly unique. This is much too familiar of a story, one that has been told many times in far better and more chilling ways. Ultimately, this prodigy isn’t quite as smart as it wants to be. This is just another generic studio horror film that will only manage to frighen those that are easily spooked.

The Prodigy



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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.