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Early Plot Reveal Poisons The Prodigy. Prodigy Review

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By Chris Redshaw

There's something delightfully devilish about taking the wholesome innocence of a child and twisting it into a macabre nightmare of sadism and evil. Just look at films like The Omen, The Exorcist, or the time Macaulay Culkin tried to kill Elijah Wood in The Good Son. Giving a film an evil or sadistic child as an antagonist has almost guaranteed to give audiences the heeby-jeebies for generations; a trend that still continues in 2019, Nicholas McCarthy's The Prodigy.

The Prodigy follows Sarah and John Blume (Taylor Schilling and Peter Mooney), a couple whose prayers to start a family are finally answered with the birth of their son Miles (Jackson Robert Scott). From five months, Miles begins demonstrating signs of remarkably high intelligence, and by the time he reaches his eighth year (when the meat of the film takes place), he claims to be smarter than either of his parents. While Sarah and John are overjoyed about Miles' development, they worry about the lack of empathy their son exhibits, as well as his inability to interact with his peers.

One night, Sarah overhears Miles speaking in a foreign language in his sleep. Worried, she takes the recording to Miles' doctor (Paula Bourdreau), who calls in the expertise of her colleague, Arthur Jacobson (Colm Feore). Jacobson specializes in reincarnation, or of people exhibiting signs of past lives. He analyzes the recording of Miles, and his findings are both shocking and horrifying: in his sleep, Miles is speaking a rare Hungarian dialect, and his message is one of extreme violence.​​

​Sarah and John's concern for their son's wellbeing turns to fear for themselves as Miles begins to grow more and more aggressive, using his startling intellect to manipulate others to achieve his dark desires. While John remains skeptical of Jacobson's ideas and methods, Sarah embarks on a quest to save not only her family but her son's soul.

The Prodigy brings nothing new to the horror genre. Perhaps its most redeemable quality is its use of atmosphere to deliver chills, only rarely relying on jump scares (and quite successfully, too).

John and Sarah are the parents you've seen in every horror film, with Schilling displaying simultaneous stoicism and aggravating levels of naivety, while Mooney has little to do other than serve as stereotypical, beer guzzling, gruff speaking, tough-love collateral damage. Thankfully, Scott (who played "Georgie" Denbrough in 2017's It) doles out the willies in spades, but it isn't quite enough to keep the film afloat.

The Prodigy is one of the first horror films to hit theaters this year. While some moviegoers are excited to get the scares rolling in 2019, The Prodigy might be one to overlook, or at least be seen at matinee prices.

What ultimately damns The Prodigy to mediocrity is how early the plot is revealed. Even though the perfect opportunity for the reveal takes place late in the film's second act, within the very first scene audiences are shown with no subtlety exactly what is happening. It takes away much of the film's suspense, as instead of audiences immersing themselves into the story, trying to discover the truth alongside the protagonists, they're left wanting to shout at the screen in frustration. While for some this may not be a deal breaker, it does seem strange to take this direction given the film's promotional tagline of, "What's Wrong With Miles?"