The evil child horror film has been done several different times over the years. The idea of an “innocent child” being evil and out to get everyone is extra creepy and scares audiences, which is why horror films of this type keep getting made. While I’m not against this kind of horror, if they’re going to continue to be made, they need to come up with some new interesting material. Unfortunately, The Prodigy doesn’t offer up much of either. While there are a few good things about this film, the negatives outweigh the positives in the end.
The films opens with two separate events going on, a woman escaping the basement of a serial killer and a couple on their way to the hospital to have a baby. The woman ends up getting away safely while the man that was holding her hostage is shot down by the police. As the man dies, the couple has their son, Miles. As Miles grows up, his parents notice that he is developing early and is surpassing his classmates. While his intelligence is clear, he also starts to show anger issues… leading to him beating another boy in his class. Miles’s parents take him to a psychologist to see what could be wrong, but after his mother Sarah (Taylor Schilling) records him speaking a suspicious language and gives the recording to the psychologist things get more complicated.
The number one positive about The Prodigy is Taylor Schilling, who plays Miles’s mother Sarah. Schilling plays the role with a sense of sensitivity and toughness in a very believable performance. While the plot does focus on Miles, Sarah becomes the main character who is in a fight for her son’s safety. Her character is by far the most interesting thing about the whole thing. In addition to Schilling, Peter Mooney who plays Miles’s father John is also good. He and Schilling have good chemistry together as well. There’s really only one more positive to this film, which is the opening. The opening does make you think there may be something to this, but then you quickly learn that’s not the case.
The complete lack of originality in this film is what leads to it’s downfall. Everything just kind of moves along at a very dull pace, offering up next to nothing that will excite audiences. The reason that’s given for why Miles is behaving the way he is can be seen from a mile away and there is no twist or surprises to be had. A by the numbers, somewhat predictable horror film can still be effective and entertaining, but not this one. If you’re not going to offer up anything new or original, fine, but you still have to keep the audience engaged.
Another very odd negative is that there are no scares to be had, I jumped once and that was it. Nothing you see here will keep you up at night. What’s particularly frustrating too is that there’s different directions in which they could take this film and more interesting concepts to dive into.
The Prodigy just feels very tired and to be honest pretty pointless. If you’re looking for a good evil child film, try The Omen or maybe Children of the Corn. And as far as horror in general goes, I’d suggest waiting on some of the hotly anticipated upcoming films, because this one isn’t worth your time
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