What is the movie about? :: In the countryside of Ohio, a serial killer with roots in Hungary, Edward Scarka (Paul Fauteux) has been murdering young girls after cutting off their hands which he kept as souvenir. Hands have always been his weakness, looking at them before selecting the victims. He has a wonderful time, as the number of victims increase every day, leaving no clue for the police to follow. But things take a turn when due to one small mistake, one of the girls, Margaret James (Brittany Allen) escapes from captivity after he takes away her right hand, and alerts the cops. The police conducts a raid at his farmhouse, and he gets shot to death. At the exact same time, a couple in Pennsylvania, Sarah Blume (Taylor Schilling) and John Blume (Peter Mooney) have their first child. Sarah is excited to finally have her first child, as the couple have been waiting for this moment for a long time after getting rid of their family problems.
So, what happens with the events here? :: Miles Blume (Jackson Robert Scott) grows up to be more intelligent than the usual kids of his age, making people feel that he is a certain kind of child prodigy. He has no trouble in solving mathematics problems and mastering language after learning to speak much earlier. He is someone who could start pre-school early, and even skip those earlier batches considering how good he was proving himself to be. Even those all these things point to one positive side, there are changes in the boy’s behaviour as he grows up. He almost kills his bab-sitter Zoe (Elisa Moolecherry) while playing hide-and-seek by setting sharp piece of glass on the steps to the basement, and also beats up other kids at the school because he didn’t get the space which he wanted using whatever he could manage to find from a hand tools kit.
And what else follows with the happenings? :: Miles seems to be a threat to everyone around, as violence follows him to places. Sarah brings Miles to a psychiatrist Dr Elaine Strasser (Paula Boudreau) who refers them to Arthur Jacobson (Colm Feore), an expert on rebirth and reincarnation. He tells Sarah about the possibility of rebirth in Miles’ case because the language which he was speaking in sleep, and was recorded and given to him by her, is a very rare dialect of Hungarian. There are not many people who know this language, and Sarah and her husband knew only one foreign language which they had mostly forgotten – Spanish. With Miles not being exposed to any other language, Arthur tells her that it could be another soul trying to be born again, replacing the soul of the boy, thus getting hold of the body to do something it had left unfinished in earlier birth. But this soul would need something more which Sarah won’t guess.
The defence of The Prodigy :: The movie maintains a good amount of creepy feeling, which only gets better with the serial killer soul taking further control, often making one think of Chucky of Child’s Play which nicely changes into the brutal murderer. There are some nice scary moments, most of them being creepier if you consider them with clarity. The creepy undercurrents drive this movie forward, as there are so many things that an evil genius can plot, even though not all of them are done. We are kept in the perpetual fear of some terrifying evil coming up, and the feeling of hope is rather bleak in this one. The movie has so much of nice foreshadowing which we can appreciate, as we do get some feeling regarding what is to come. There are not many things spookier than having an evil kid that acts like a vessel of pure evil. As we have heard on many occasions, evil comes in many forms, and always finds a way.
The claws of flaw :: Some years ago, in 2009, Orphan had a poster saying there is something wrong with Esther – Isabelle Fuhrman who later bagged a role in the dystopian thriller The Hunger Games made that movie one which everyone loved. Ten years later, in 2019, this movie comes with the tagline, what is wrong with Miles? Well, there is no difficulty in understanding where this is pointing to. There was the plan to make something like Orphan, and this time, they added rebirth to the plan. This could be even considered similar to a sequel, even though it is not. In comparison to Esther, The Prodigy struggles at times, and the effect of the twist is also not that much to be seen. The fear element is also not that real as Orphan which also had even better performances, and a past which was so mysterious and a twist which was heavy. The Prodigy could have had the evil manifestation doing more to people too, and the serial killer’s past could have been better shown too.
Performers of the soul :: As this is not the usual horror movie like The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun and Insidious, performance was always going to matter much. Taylor Schilling makes a perfect, confused mother here, as someone who thinks that one or the other action can save her child, but ends up being foolish in her motherly love. Peter Mooney who plays the father figure almost does the same, even though not that much. Jackson Robert Scott who plays the child comes with a fine performance – it won’t be that creepy as what we had seen in Orphan, but it is still something that we will remember in acceptance of another evil kid on screen. Colm Feore is solid as the man who tries to help, but knows that he has to be careful when standing on thin ice. Paul Fauteux who plays the serial killer needed to have more space, and his actions with the kidnapped girls are never really shown, except for those hands being hung there.
How it finishes :: If you have liked movies like Orphan, you are also going to like The Prodigy. The idea of a kid that acts strange and goes on a killing spree isn’t something new for us, but it will continue to catch our interest for a long time to come. After all, the idea of inherent evil being being present in children is something we haven’t been able to deny, and the works like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies had further strengthened the same. It had been working further in the movie world since The Omen. The idea of rebirth and reincarnation are used here instead of the usual haunting when the kids are shown to be evil. The idea here works in a more terrifying way because of what lies underneath, and by establishing that this is pure evil, and there is a master evil brain at work here, which is almost impossible to defeat.
Release date: 8th February 2019
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Nicholas McCarthy
Starring: Taylor Schilling, Jackson Robert Scott, Colm Feore, Brittany Allen, Olunike Adeliyi, Elisa Moolecherry, Peter Mooney, Paula Boudreau, Olunike Adeliyi, Martin Roach, Ashley Back, Tristan Vasquez
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