by Ian Morton
The problem reviewing a film like The Prodigy is that you get the sense that you’re reviewing a cluster of other movies at the same time. From its opening sequence through to its climax, the film is a mish mash of classic horror twists and turns that leave very little to the imagination. Bringing together elements of the supernatural, creepy kid and even slasher categories within the genre, the plot is pedestrian, rarely venturing past predictable and making for a flimsy, overfamiliar night in front of the TV.
Marketed as a horror (but with a surprisingly little amount of scares), the plot follows the Blume family and their battle to save the youngest of the brood from a supernatural stalker. Born at the same time as the untimely death of a vicious serial killer, young Miles Blume finds his soul intertwined with that of the dying murderer, slowly succumbing to the evil presence inside with each passing year.
A solid, nuts and bolts opening paves the way for an interesting blend of ideas from movies such as the original Child’s Play and Insidious franchises, but it all falls apart when you realise just how familiar it all feels. Just as the symptoms start to appear in young Miles, so too does the almost endless amounts of utterly unnecessary exposition, explaining the unfolding events, the inevitable conclusion and ultimately reminding you of all the other films it seems to be emulating. Given that some of the discourse literally screams to the audience that it’s trying to be different from other films within the genre, it’s a huge misstep that unfortunately keeps you harking back to other, better films rather than keeping you engaged in this particular adventure.
While issues with the general narrative do fundamentally miss the mark, this is certainly not a film that everyone will necessarily find mundane. From the same directing/cinematography duo behind 2012’s, The Pact, the film is handsomely shot, translating well to a wide audience and doing a decent job at creating a sense of dread. When you then pair this with a tidy running time of just over 90 minutes the result is a film that functions more like the shallow end of the genre swimming pool rather than jumping straight in at the deep end.
In essence, the frustration of The Prodigy rests on how well you know the horror/thriller genre. If you consider yourself quite au fait with these types of film, there is little more here than a reminder that you have seen something better. For those who rarely swim beyond the 10m mark however, there should be enough here to keep you going.
The Prodigy is available on digital download and DVD on July 15th.
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