Reincarnation, possession and parenting come together in Nicholas McCarthy’s horror film “The Prodigy” — a movie that takes evil genius to a whole new level.
This film includes everything “How to Parent for Dummies” left out as new parents Sarah and John Blume, played by Taylor Schilling and Peter Mooney, raise their son Miles, played by Jackson Robert Scott.
Unsurprisingly, Sarah and John are thrilled when Miles shows rapid signs of development and Einstein levels of intelligence; however, as time goes on and Miles grows up, their genius child turns their lives into a living nightmare.
“The Prodigy” opens with a punch — literally.
In Ohio, an unnamed woman breaks through the door of an abandoned house in the middle of the woods. She rushes through the forest and onto the middle of a road. Running into the middle of the road, the woman is eventually helped by a driver.
Once the driver gets out of the car to rush to the woman’s side, the audience gets a closer look at the woman, who happens to be missing one of her hands.
The handless woman leads police to her captor. Alerted by flashlights in the night, her captor realizes the woman broke free from her closet prison and greets the officers on the house’s front step.
Concealing something behind his back, officers jump to execute the man. After the flood of bullets penetrate his body, he falls to the ground revealing what he was hiding from them — the woman’s hand.
At the same time of this killing, Sarah goes into labor. She and John leave their Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania, home to go to the hospital. After hours of being in labor, Sarah is shown holding Miles, who was born with two different colored eyes.
The seemingly perfect family, Miles starts out as a playful, but clearly smart, boy who likes to have staring contests with his mother. Sarah and John have Miles tested after they realize how smart their son is, and he is eventually placed in a private school.
John, confused by his son’s school not believing in homework, shakes off Miles’s sometimes condescending remarks about being smarter than his dad; however, both Sarah and John are thrown off one night at dinner when Miles asks for paprika to help flavor his meal.
These seemingly subtle red flags escalate when Miles takes a wrench to a classmate’s face after Miles does not get to work with a girl he likes in his class.
Over time, Sarah begins to hear Miles talking in his sleep. Later, she records him talking and learns that the dialect is native to a small town in Hungary.
As the plot progresses, the two narratives presented in the beginning of the film are woven together and are represented through Miles’s changes in behavior.
Sarah and John leave Miles with a babysitter to have a date night without any “kid talk.” While Miles is home, he convinces his babysitter to play a game of hide and seek. Sarah and John’s alone time is cut short when the babysitter steps on a strategically placed shard of glass as she made her way down the basement steps on her search for Miles.
When questioned, Miles tells his mom he does not remember what happened or how the babysitter got hurt. Naively, Sarah believes him.
Miles confesses to his mom that he often leaves his body during his sleep. Confused, Sarah tells Miles’s therapist about her son’s actions.
Miles’s violent outbursts, paired with his newfound bilinguality brings him to a therapist’s office. Struck by Miles’s condition, his therapist recommends Sarah take him to doctor who specializes in reincarnation.
This film gives a fresh perspective to the horror genre, specifically with the possession narrative. Rather than having a demonic spirit or paranormal force as the clear antagonist, the evil taking over is very real and human in form.
The specialists believes Edward Scarka, the man who was killed at the beginning of the film, was reincarnated with malicious, sinister intentions to carry out his heinous crimes under the guise of a child.
“The Prodigy” offers audiences a break from the typical horror film.
There is no exorcism or ghosts, but the fear is still terrifyingly real.
As with any movie, there are the run of the mill, predictable jump scares; however, I did find myself covering my eyes as the plot begins to unravel and Edward takes over Miles’s body.
In addition to the reincarnation plotline, Sarah’s struggle as a mother adds color to the film, creating another story to grapple with. As she tries to differentiate between Miles and Edward, her character becomes more relatable and sympathetic.
Sarah falters when she brings Miles’s body to the one who got away at the beginning of the movie to help Edward finish what he started, urging him to kill her.
The movie ends with an unexpected twist which helps rectify the predictable parts.
Overall, “The Prodigy” stands out as a fresh narrative that challenges the family dynamic. With its scares and eerily real plotline, this horror movie is one for the books.