Movie Review: The Prodigy

Simple Review: Not very smart!

Being a parent is a frightening venture that will test any persons confidence and reveal a new level of anxiety. From worrying about your child’s health, safety, choice of friends to keeping him or her as far from the internet as possible, parents can be in what feels like a 24-hour horror movie. Oh sure, kids are a blessing and I wouldn’t trade mine for anything in the world, except maybe Scarlette Johansson’s phone number ( just kidding), it is a challenge to enter into child rearing. If it wasn’t scary enough, imagine if your kid was part young Sheldon and part Hannibal Lector! Needless to say, your kid wouldn’t be getting too many invites to parties at Chuck E Cheese. Following this line of thought comes the new horror movie, The Prodigy, a film dealing with such a “gifted” child and the chaos that follows in his wake. Does The Prodigy deliver a beautiful bundle of joy, or is it the equivalent of your friends ugly baby that you lie and tell its parents it is adorable? ( It’s ok we’ve all done it) 

Can we all be completely honest with each other and admit kids can be creepy? They say weird and random things that seem to come from another dimension. They sneak into your bedroom in the middle of the night, quietly whispering in your ear making you jump ten feet in the air. They leave their toys out in such a way that you are sure they want you to trip and fall so they can collect the life insurance money. Don’t even get me started on the middle school years! The Prodigy ups this creep factor by imagining what it would be like to raise a kid that has the spirit of a deceased serial killer living inside of him. They don’t have a chapter about that in What to expect when you’re expecting! While this might sound like a solid premise for a horror movie, The Prodigy is just a depressing mess that gets dumber as the film moves on.

If you are a consistent reader of this groundbreaking blog, then you know I like to start with the positives a movie has to offer before I get to the criticisms. It is my way of keeping the balance in my review “force” between the light side and the dark side. For the love of me, however, I could not find one positive to point out in the movie. Perhaps the “twist” at the end, but as interesting as it is, it does not feel earned by the movie that leads up to it. This movie never lets you feel the desperation that leads to the decisions at the end, so it has little impact and is simply depressing. And that is the positive thing I am writing about. Since I can’t find anything nice to say about The Prodigy, and despite what my mother told to do if I can’t say anything nice, let’s dive into the negatives this movie hits us repeatedly with.

The performances in the film were flat out terrible. Taylor Schilling plays Sarah, the problem child’s mom, and there is nothing interesting about her at all. She spends most of the movie with a confused look on her face, or on the verge of tears. I felt no connection between her and her son in the movie, Miles. I can’t lay all of the blame at Taylor’s feet for this lack of a connection, as the director doesn’t show much of the family bonding before the “terror” begins. Speaking of Miles, he is played by Jackson Robert Scott who looks creepy enough when he needs to, but he doesn’t show enough of the good side in Miles to conflict with the evil. I know that is a tough task for a child actor and in the hands of a better director, perhaps a more interesting performance could have been created. The rest of the cast is just there to fill a role with no one standing out, except maybe the dog who does the best job conveying different emotions.

Director Nicholas McCarthy has given us a horror movie with no scares and no atmosphere. There is only one scene that was visually interesting as it used shadows to make you wonder if you saw Miles in the room or not. That was the closest to a creepy scene as there was in the whole movie. There is nothing visually memorable, nor are there any clever moments that bring legitimate scares to this film. What needed to be a slow build up to show us the family as a “normal” family that descends into this nightmare is instead rushed into the ” creepy, killer kid” so fast that you never get a sense that there was ever a good Miles, which only serves to hurt the emotional impact of these parents struggling to save their son. I never liked Miles at all and only saw the parents as bigger morons than Kevin Mcallister’s parents. These are the most important things for us, the audience, to connect with in this movie so that the end feels earned and we can understand the motivations of the parents, instead, we don’t care and openly want a child to die. Way to go, Mr. McCarthy, you made me want a kid to die, something I haven’t felt since I watched Shark-boy and Lava Girl!

Let’s turn to the plot of this cinematic calamity. Writer Jeff Buhler owes the makers of the original Child’s Play movie some money because the basic plot of this movie is damn near the same thing. If you do see this movie, within the first fifteen minutes you will know exactly what I am talking about. A serial killer is reincarnated into the body of a small toy, errrr, boy, and terrorizes babysitters, authority figures and a blonde mom. All we need is Brad Dourif spouting cheesy one-liners and you’ve got another Chucky movie. There is nothing original or unique to set it apart from the rest of these types of movies.

Are you ready for the laughably stupid things we get from this movie? (Mostly spoiler free, of course) How about a kid that viciously attacks a fellow student at their school for geniuses, only to be sent to public school like nothing ever happened? Thanks, Miles’ parents for dropping your psychopath kid into the public school system, I am sure nothing bad will come of that. After your kid uses one of your tools to kill, let him have full access to everything in the house so he can cause more damage. Miles has a hidden collection of newspaper clippings and a book, which begs the question of how did an eight-year-old child buy the book, find the old newspapers to get the clippings from or leave the house to get these things? ( I laughed out loud in the theater when these things were discovered in his room) The fact that in this movie an eight-year-old child overpowers adults is another laugh out loud moment. A character that I felt so bad for because they have the worst luck in the history of the universe. ( I don’t want to spoil it so I won’t elaborate, but you’ll know what I am talking about when this character appears at the end) I could go on, but you get the point that this is an incredibly stupid movie!

It is time to put this evil baby to bed and wrap up this dirty diaper of a review. To put it bluntly, avoid The Prodigy at all costs! If someone has placed a suitcase full of hundred dollar bills in the theater this movie is playing in, then you have my permission to see this movie. Outside of that, you have no excuse. You’ve been warned…

I hope you enjoyed this review and if you did please comment, like and share with others so we can keep them from seeing this movie!!!

As always, thanks for your time!

The Movie Psycho

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