**Spoiler FREE Review**
What’s wrong with Miles? The latest release from Orion Pictures, The Prodigy, tries to answer that question. The supernatural horror-thriller is director Nicholas McCarthy’s third theatrical release, with his previous two outings also being horror films. The Prodigy follows Miles (Jackson Robert Scott), a disturbed young boy who has the intellect of a genius, and his family, as they investigate what’s causing his wicked behavior.
From a technical aspect there’s a lot to love about The Prodigy. The acting, direction and score is what makes this film better than what it should be. Jackson Robert Scott’s performance was just as good, if not better, than when he was yelling at Bill that “you’ll float too” in his last horror venture. Scott does a fantastic job of balancing the nuances of playing a character that has somewhat of a split personality in this possession film. There are scenes where he delivers the dialogue with enough confidence that it doesn’t make you second guess what you’re hearing. Jackson Scott Reed pulls off the right amount of creepiness needed that creates the perturb and eerie that a character like Miles needs to work in a film such as this one. Miles’ mother, Sarah, is portrayed by Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) and Schilling does an okay job herself with the material she is given. She plays a mother who truly cares about the well-being of her son and it often times feels authentic. Yet, there are a few scenes where Miles will say things to her and his father John (Peter Mooney), that make you wonder why the parents just give in to his demands so easily, instead of, ya know, parenting.
The direction of Nicholas McCarthy and the score provided by Joseph Bishara is what gives The Prodigy some sense of originality. There are a lot of these possession films that aren’t directed as well and McCarthy deserves recognition for that. He knows when to focus on a characters face to up the tension and suspense in a scene. And he doesn’t overly rely on jump scares. If you’ve followed this blog then you know jump scares when not used effectively can ruin the enjoyment of a film. There was a jump scare that really stood out, and it got an audible noise out of me in the theater because it came out of nowhere. McCarthy stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly back in October that there was a scene that had to be re-edited due to the audience screaming so much. Bishara’s score adds to the film’s sinister aspect. Bishara has been a staple in composing sounds for horror films including Insidious and The Conjuring franchises. The Prodigy may have a budget of only 6 million dollars but he brought his A-game during the scoring process.
As much as I enjoyed the technical aspects of the film the biggest flaw and where The Prodigy falls flat is in its script. In that same Entertainment Weekly interview, McCarthy stated that when he read the script, this movie was something he had to make. The problem with the script is that the movie is far too predictable. There wasn’t much of a sense of surprise during the film because all the familiar horror tropes were heir apparent. While watching the movie if there’s something that you think is going to happen the movie never tries to swerve or be original and create something that hasn’t been seen in a dozen other horror films. Overall, I enjoyed it enough that when I walked out of the theater I wasn’t mad at what I witnessed. It was a competent movie that just needed to take more risk to be something that truly stood out. If you’re out with your friends and looking for a fun “scary” movie to watch this weekend then I would recommend giving this one a viewing.
[All Mames Wey]
The Prodigy is in theaters February 8, 2018.