Critic Reviews



Based on 18 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
McCarthy is not (yet) a celebrated director, but The Prodigy may change that. As with his under-seen debut film “The Pact,” his greatest asset here is his patience, followed by his evocative use of light, shadow and negative space. He’s a filmmaker who recognizes that the buildup is more fun than the payoff, and he manages to generate suspense with seemingly little happening on the screen.
It could have been smarter without sacrificing pacing or chills. That’s not a dealbreaker — target audiences will likely be satisfied by its many pluses — but the film is good enough that you wish it went all the way.
The film is littered with jump scares, but most of them offer up shocking twists that land with genuine payoff: the score winds up, the framing gets tighter, the shots linger for longer, and when a different film might serve up a jump scare with a giddy “oh, it was nothing!” laugh, The Prodigy delivers something truly distressing.
While it lacks gripping, nail-biting tension, the unnerving horror that underscores the family drama brings it to life.
The filmmakers figure out how to make a creepy kid chilling again, then stop short, closing the case too early. In other words, they’ve got an underachiever on their hands.
The filmmakers fail to realize that the darkest horror here doesn’t lie in the triumph of true evil, but in seeing how far a regular family will go to protect itself before doing the right and necessary thing, however hard or horrible it might be.
One personal pet peeve is the music. A movie about evil reincarnation could pave the way for any of a hundred different song choices, but The Prodigy’s score is focused on a dissatisfying blend of danger chords and a single shapeless Hungarian folk song.
The Prodigy may offer some shocks to those susceptible to this genre, or who have never seen it before, but to horror fans it will probably seem unremarkable and even bland.
Offering very little in the way of enjoyment or anything other than clichéd horror tropes, The Prodigy isn’t offensively terrible and will unintentionally make for a few solid laughs, but it’s best not to let this forgettable vessel possess much of your time.
The film’s cardinal sin isn’t so much that it’s unoriginal as that it’s so uninvolving it almost assures attention deficit will set in early.

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