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The Prodigy is a 2019 American horror film directed by Nicholas McCarthy, and starring Taylor Schilling and Jackson Robert Scott. The plot centers around a child whose disturbing behavior signals that an evil, possibly supernatural being has taken control of him, forcing his parents to investigate whether sinister forces are involved. The film was released in the United States on February 8, 2019, by Orion Pictures. It has grossed over $15 million and received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the performances but criticized the story.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nicholas McCarthy|
|Produced by||Tara Farney|
|Written by||Jeff Buhler|
|Music by||Joseph Bishara|
|Edited by||Tom Elkins|
|Box office||$15.7 million|
The Prodigy is a 2019 American horror film directed by Nicholas McCarthy, and starring Taylor Schilling and Jackson Robert Scott. The plot centers around a child whose disturbing behavior signals that an evil, possibly supernatural being has taken control of him, forcing his parents to investigate whether sinister forces are involved.
The film was released in the United States on February 8, 2019, by Orion Pictures. It has grossed over $15 million and received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the performances but criticized the story.
On August 22, 2010 in rural Ohio, serial killer Edward Scarka is shot to death during a police raid of his farmhouse. At the time of Edward's death, married couple Sarah and John give birth to their son, Miles, in Pennsylvania. Miles shows extreme wisdom and intelligence from quite a young age, and begins speaking fluently before he is even a toddler.
When Miles turns eight in 2018, Sarah and John begin noticing behavioral changes in him. One night he plays a prank on his babysitter Zoe, seriously injuring her, but claims no memory of the incident. Days later at school, he attacks a classmate with a wrench he obtains from the janitor's closet. Sarah brings Miles to psychologist Elaine Strasser, and also turns over a tape recording of Miles talking apparent gibberish in his sleep. Elaine gives the tape to a colleague, Arthur Jacobson, an expert on rebirth and reincarnation. Arthur reveals that the gibberish Miles spoke on the tape is in fact Hungarian, and that the words translate to "I'll cut your eyes out and watch you die, whore."
Unwilling to believe Arthur's assertion that an unsettled spirit is vying for control of Miles's body, Sarah dismisses him. Later at home, the family's dog goes missing, and John becomes infuriated when he finds that Miles has been recording the couple's bedroom with a baby monitor. John leaves to stay with his brother, leaving Sarah alone with Miles in the house. Miles awakens her in the middle of the night, and she finds a swarm of flies in the house. In the basement, Sarah discovers the family's dismembered dog. Miles apologizes, and explains that someone is invading his dreams every night, and that he has to "make room."
Sarah brings Miles to see Arthur, who hypnotizes him in the hope of engaging in past life regression, which will allow him to speak to the dark spirit cohabiting in Miles's body. The regression is successful, and the individual explains that his parents were in fact Hungarian immigrants. The session goes awry, however, when Miles threatens to accuse Arthur of drugging and molesting him, which prompts Arthur to end the session and return him to Sarah. After Miles and Sarah leave, Arthur finds "Scarka" carved into his leather couch from Miles's fingernails. Later that night, Arthur calls Sarah, and explains that he believes Miles's body is being vied for by the soul Edward Scarka, attempting to return to continue his killing spree. Upon researching Edward on the internet, Sarah finds he died only minutes before Miles's birth, and is startled to see that, like Miles, he had two different-colored eyes. John and Sarah decide to have Miles incarcerated, but Miles stabs John en route to the facility, causing him to crash; John goes into a coma as a result of the accident. Meanwhile, in Miles's room, Sarah uncovers a cache of newspaper clippings about Edward's crimes, as well as a book by Margaret St. James, Edward's final victim who escaped and led authorities to him.
Sarah realizes Edward is attempting to return to claim Margaret, his final would-be victim. Sarah decides to kill Margaret herself, ending Edward's need for Miles's body. Sarah drugs Miles with sleeping pills and the two drive to Ohio to Margaret's rural farmhouse. Sarah knocks on the door, posing as a battered woman who was touched by Margaret's book, persuading Margaret to allow her inside. After entering the home, Sarah draws a gun, but is unable to bring herself to shoot Margaret. Miles then enters the house and brutally attacks Margaret with a butcher knife, stabbing her multiple times and disemboweling her. Sarah chases Miles outside into an adjacent orchard to console him, believing Edward has left his body now that his final deed is complete. However, he reveals that Edward has taken full control of Miles's body, and that Miles's soul has already been vanquished. Horrified, Sarah draws her gun and attempts to shoot him, but before she can, a farmer stumbles upon the scene and shoots her with a shotgun, killing her.
Some time later, Miles is taken to live in a temporary foster home until John is discharged from the hospital. In his new bedroom, Miles stares into a mirror, which reflects back the image of Edward.
In June 2018, Orion Pictures announced that the film would be released in February 2019. The film was originally titled Descendants. The first poster and trailer were released alongside the film Halloween in October 2018. That month, McCarthy revealed that a scene had to be re-edited after it was found that it made a test audience scream so much that they missed the following dialogue.
In the United States and Canada, The Prodigy was released on February 8, 2019, alongside The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Cold Pursuit and What Men Want, and was projected to gross $8–11 million from 2,530 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $2 million on its first day, including $350,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $6 million, finishing sixth at the box office, although Deadline Hollywood noted given the film's $6 million production budget the studio was satisfied with the results and the film would likely net a profit.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 45% based on 44 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Prodigy doesn't take the bad seed genre to any truly new places, but for horror fans in search of an evil child to fear, it might still be worth a watch." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it a 64% overall positive score and a 44% "definite recommend".