R Dir: Nicholas McCarthy | Twentieth Century Fox | 1h 32min
Plot: What’s it about?
While I’ve never been big on horror films based on evil children, The Prodigy does get more right than wrong. I won’t call it an outright great film, but it is better than it has any right to be. It has a nice, steady pace about it and some effective scares, though most are telegraphed by the loud score. Still, it should ultimately please fans of this genre.
The film begins on August 22, 2010 when a serial killer named Edward Scarka is shot and killed by police. At the same time of Edward being killed, married couple Sarah (Taylor Schilling) and John (Peter Mooney) give birth to their son, Miles. Right away, they see just how smart and advanced their son is. We flash forward to present day when Miles turns eight, and his parents start noticing strange behavioral changes in their son. His parents are on a date night when Miles plays a cruel prank on the babysitter. He also attacks a student at school. The film then plays out with Sarah and John trying to figure out just what is going on with their son. Since this clocks in at a relatively short 90 some minutes, I won’t reveal too many plot specifics, but we learn more about what’s going on as the film progresses.
While an original film, The Prodigy does wear its influences on its sleeve. Certainly with films such as Exorcist and Omen, but it does enough to feel like its own being. I feel it’s safe to say that if you’re in the mood for a film of this sort then this one should please you. Jackson Robert Scott does great in the role as the young boy, and Schilling and Mooney are fine as the parents. There’s a twist near the end that did kind of frustrate me a bit, but the film certainly takes risks in that regard. So while not something I need to watch over and over, Prodigy earns my recommendation for at least a rental, mainly for genre fans.
Video: How’s it look?
Fox presents The Prodigy in a wide 2.39:1 AVC HD image and the quality is, as expected, quite amazing. Surprisingly there was no 4K release for the film, though I’m sure had it been more critically and commercially successful, it would have been. Nevertheless, black levels show no ghosting (get it?), contrast is strong and though the muted color palette fits with the genre, I found nothing really “wrong” with it. It’s as I’ve said about many new to the format titles – it looks good and should provide the viewer with no real complaints.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The inclusion of the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack has a few moments that made me jump. Then again the genre seems to dictate that at least more than a few “jump scares” are present, else it can’t qualify as a horror movie. There’s a very wide dynamic range present here and the score really adds to the depth and dimension during a few key sequences. Vocals are pure and rich. It’s a good-sounding track that fits nicely within its genre.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Director Nicholas McCarthy flies solo here and it’s probably for the best. He gives us the usual slew of anecdotes about the film, the cast and the shoot as a whole as well as some other tidbits that can only be learned while listening to the track.
- Featurettes – Three brief, very brief, featurettes that seem to exist only to give a few more bullet points to the Blu-ray. The longest of these runs just over 90 seconds.
- Stills Gallery – These may be played automatically or manually. I’d go with the manual option seeing as there are only a dozen images.
The Bottom Line
A tight and somewhat effective horror film, The Prodigy will likely please fans of the “Evil Kid” genre. It fares better than most horror films in this category and gets more right than wrong. I felt the ending to be somewhat infuriating, but it still somehow works within the horror film world. Rent it.