The Prodigy (2019)
Directed By: Nicholas McCarthy
Written By: Jeff Buhler
You know how some people can’t whisper? They think they can but they just broadcast all of their secrets to anyone within earshot? If those people were a movie, they would be The Prodigy. It’s not a bad movie but it telegraphs every single thing that happens and has the nerve to act as though the audience has just been completely surprised. In the first two or three minutes there are three jump scares, and if you have seen more than two horror movies in your life, you’re going to see all three of them coming 30 seconds before they happen. I actually sat in my seat thinking “Oh that’s going to hit that.” and then BOOM, twenty seconds later it hit it. There is no jump or scare in that.
It’s not just the jump scares that are telegraphed. It is plainly obvious, to anyone who has ever had a movie explained to them, what is happening. Yet the big “reveal” doesn’t come until about halfway through the movie and it is explained to death as if we have all been sitting there completely baffled. There was nothing I could do but roll my eyes. There are other examples of this throughout the film but I don’t want to spoil anything here. Just plan on being two steps ahead of where the filmmakers think you’re going to be. The film’s tagline is “What’s wrong with Miles?” which would lead you to believe that you have to figure out what is indeed wrong with Miles. However, it is crystal clear what is wrong with him before the title card even comes up.
That’s really the big flaw in The Prodigy. Despite not being surprised by a single thing that happens on-screen, there are still a few really tense moments in the film. This is especially true of the ending. The story does place quite a moral dilemma on the mother’s doorstep and I must admit that despite all my bluster about being way ahead of the story, I actually didn’t know what she was going to do. So maybe I should give the final act credit for having a surprise or two but that’s really only the last fifteen or twenty minutes. It is a satisfying fifteen or twenty minutes though.
The performances are fine. With the exception of Jackson Robert Scott, no one is really doing standout work but no one tanks the film either. As for Scott, best known for playing Georgie in the 2017 remake of IT, he impresses throughout the movie. It’s not an easy task he’s been given either. As Miles he is required to go from innocent and sweet one moment, to cold and dangerous the next. If his performance doesn’t work this entire film falls apart but he does it brilliantly again and again, essentially carrying The Prodigy along with him.
Director Nicholas McCarthy has delivered the very definition of an average film. If you were at home on a Friday night, surfing through Netflix, came across The Prodigy and decided to give it a shot, you would probably enjoy it. You might even tell your friends about the solid little horror film that you found. However, if you get off work and, instead of going home, drive to the theater, buy a ticket, get some popcorn and a drink and see The Prodigy, you are most likely going to walk out of the theater disappointed.