The Prodigy, which was released way back in February, is yet another creepy kid movie.
You know how these movies go. There’s always some child who seems like a perfect little angel but is actually either psychotic or demon-possessed or maybe an alien. Whatever it is, the important thing is that the child can get away with killing people because no one thinks that an eight year-old would do that something like that. Inevitably, it’s the child’s mother who figure out what’s going on and it’s always up to her to try to stop her child’s reign of terror. Sometimes, the mother is successful. More often, she’s not and the movie ends with the little brat smiling at the camera or something. Seriously, you know how it goes!
Because there’s been so many of them, it’s usually easy to predict what’s going to happen in these creepy kid movies. At the same time, they’re effective because … well, let’s just be honest here. Kids are creepy. Even the ones that aren’t evil know that they can get away with stuff that no adult would be allowed to do. Add to that, they’ve got those high-pitched voices that can give you a migraine if you get stuck on airplane anywhere near one of them. Beyond that, these films also touch on every parent’s worst fear. What if your child does grow up to be evil? What if you mess up while you’re raising them and, as a result, other people suffer? What if your child grows up to have bad hygiene or an obnoxious attitude? I mean, I don’t have any children yet but these are the things that I imagine keep most parents up at night.
Anyway, in The Prodigy, the creepy kid is named Miles (Jackson Robert Scott). Miles is super smart. He started talking when he was just a toddler. However, after Mile turns 8, he starts to behave strangely. He pulls mean pranks on the babysitter. He attacks other children. He starts speaking Hungarian in his sleep and saying stuff like, “I’ll cut your eyes out and watch you die, whore.” After Miles does something bad, he always claims that he has no memory of what he did. Whenever Bad Miles takes control, Good Miles just seems to black out. Needless to say, his parents — Sarah (Taylor Schilling) and John (Peter Mooney) — are concerned about what’s happening with their son.
Could it have something to do with the fact that, at the same time that Miles was being born, a Hungarian serial killer named Edward Scarka was getting gunned down by the cops? Is it possible that Edward’s evil spirit is now inside of Miles and is trying to take control of him? Sarah certainly comes to think so! As for John — well, who cares? John is mostly just there to get upset and pout.
The Prodigy does have some scary moments. Director Nicholas McCarthy establishes an ominous atmosphere early on and the film remains remarkably bleak for the majority of its running time. I mean, there are some really dark moments in The Prodigy. But, at the same time, the whole crazy child plot is a bit too predictable and the film doesn’t really bring anything new to the terror tyke genre. Add to that, this is yet another film in which a family pet is gruesomely murdered for no particular reason. I guess we’re supposed to be shocked and say, “OH MY GOD, IF THEY’LL KILL THAT ADORABLE DOG, THEY’LL KILL ANYONE!” but the dog is so obviously doomed from the first moment that it appears that it just feels like lazy storytelling.
Outside of a few isolated moments, The Prodigy doesn’t really make much of an impression. It’s an efficient horror film that’s never really memorable.