“The Prodigy” attempts to make you care about the creepy-kid-going-crazy routine going on, but you’re left to yawn and (occasionally) laugh at the panache of Nicholas McCarthy’s misfire.
Miles (Jackson Robert Scott) grows up much faster than his peers and begins to showcase extreme acts of violence in his school, as well as other disturbing behaviour. When his mother Sarah (Taylor Schilling) tries to find a cure for Miles’ issues, a recommended scientist suggests that the boy’s body is inhabited by a soul of a serial killer.
Did you notice that almost every “creepy kid” horror movie follows the exact same storyline?
The story goes like this: The Creepy Kid exhibits rather disquieting behavior (like hurting animals or peers). One of its parents tries to help (usually the mother) while other tends to think “rationally” and tries to save their asses from evil. Then, the Creepy Kid goes completely nuts, so there is a need for a special kind of doctor (or a scientist), that nobody listens to (because their theories sound so off), to share the wisdom about the fatal condition. Eventually, things only get worse and the audience is left to gasp at the promise of a sequel (that nobody asks for).
That’s not even a spoiler, because McCarthy’s “Prodigy” is so obviously predictable that you need to be heavily drunk to not see this coming.
The plot of “The Prodigy” reminds of a grocery shopping list that you take sketch to make your fill-the-trolley-routine a bit less of a burden for your memory.
But rather than the above meaning a smooth way of doing shopping, it points to something else. “The Prodigy” is disconcertingly forgettable, just like a routine thing you do “get it over with”.
This is due to two main reasons.
One is its totally unconvincing cast. Young Jackson Scott (the boy, who plays Miles) acts and looks closer to a “supporting” star of a Disney Channel show rather than an Omen-kid type, that spreads havoc and haunts your dreams with a deadly eyesight.
Although there are moments, when the boy turns creepy, nonetheless the script is so shallow in character development that it’s hard to even understand what Miles suffers from. The boy’s disease is murkily defined, and the entire reincarnation thing (introduced by the previously mentioned scientist) is far-fetched to say the least. Therefore, the transitions from a sweet, innocent kid to a little demon are from what James McAvoy pulled off in “Split” – meaning you fall asleep.
Then, there is the most disposable duo of Miles’ parents.
They are two straight-to-VHS characters, who you couldn’t care less about. Both Taylor Schilling and Peter Mooney (Mrs. and Mr. Blume respectively) are vegetating on screen as their daunting lines and character arcs reveal them to be nothing but points, moving the plot from A to B. They act in ways a sane person would not – like Miles’ mother bringing him to fulfill the destiny of the killer’s soul that torments him – and there is no valid reasoning behind these actions (other than what the plot expects them to do).
Even when Nicholas McCarthy reveals his ambition to direct something far more engaging (like tying the knots between timelines), “The Prodigy” is already a lost cause.
The director camouflages poor script and characters with dragged out zooms and color saturation that brings “The Ring” to mind. Nonetheless, these details remain ineffective, as if a discounted price could sell a rotten apple.
As a consequence, “The Prodigy” might be a from-A-to-B entertainment on a Wednesday sleepless night, but I can hardly find any other reasons to give this film a shot.
The Prodigy (2019)
Dir. Nicholas McCarthy
Hate Grade: 8/10