Although the prodigy has not been able to take full advantage of its potential, cinema-goers should not be disappointed.
After Velvet Buzzsaw’s netflix debut, the first high-profile horror movie of the year, The Wonder Child, has arrived. Director Nicholas McCarthy has made only a few rather gray films so far (e.g., The Settlement), but his new work, as its promising preview and advertising campaign suggests, is far more demanding and high-quality than his previous work. The prodigy did not disappoint, as the creators understood one very important thing: the scheme of the evil little boy alone is now small enough to become great. That’s why the dark mystery surrounding little Miles ’personality is already shrouded in a third of the film, and the really tense scenes that otherwise last until the closing snippet begin here. This is not the child of Rosemary, the Omen and the Exorcist. The focus is not on the devilish little boy, but on his mother and his relationship with his mother, which makes the cliché, which has been well-established over many decades of film history, much more interesting. However, despite his tension almost maintained throughout and some lavish scenes, it won’t be the best horror film of 2019 either. In vain is the new point of view if the rest of the plot is stenciled. In addition, the creators could not take advantage of the ball thrown by them, the potential of reincarnation. At the same time, it is definitely worth watching The Wonder Child, it is a well-done work that should not be disappointed by cinema-goers.
David Cronenberg recently made a big dust-stirring statement that horror has long been a boring genre. While there was a lot of innovation in the field of creepy genre in his youth, and that’s why successful and high-impact filmmakers bravely made dozens of horror films, the legendary artist says the genre has lost its allure today. Many people were outraged at this speech at the time, saying that great horror movies are still being made today. While this is undoubtedly the case, Cronenberg can still be told the truth. Precisely because of the problem he raises, it’s so exciting for someone to twist a bit on a classic scheme these days. The creators of the prodigy, Nicholas McCarthy, who has hitherto recorded the rather moderate horrors (eg The Settlement; Home; Holidays), have tried to do just that: the evil little child has been revived on the screen. They tried to create something other than what we had already seen in the case of Rosemary’s child, Omen, Carrie, Exorcist, and Halloween, but rather the ones we managed to mix and twist well. It can’t be said at all that The Prodigy is boring, but somehow the “big experiment” somehow didn’t really get bright. The deep originality that would stand out from the crowd, which would make it memorable or special in the weekly expanding horror dumping, is missing from the film overall.
The central figure in the story is the mysterious little boy, whose presentation from birth to elementary school completes roughly the first third of the film. Although the creators emphasize their uniqueness and outstanding intelligence halfway through the road, in retrospect, it should be noted that the title character does not make any special intellectual effort. Moreover, he often behaves very recklessly and is unable to control his emotions, which could easily cause his own loss many times over. In light of this, a single *****-minded act seems completely alien to his personality. What still compensates for these disproportions is the role of the mother. The protagonist of the film is not the little boy, but the mother. The only, but all the more prominent aspect of Nicholas McCarthy’s work is that he examines everything from his perspective and in relation to his child. It turns out pretty soon that his mother is very unsafe with the terribly aggressive boy. It’s quite brilliant as the dramaturgy pulls the duel of increasingly distrustful parties all the way to the finale. In the preceding scenes of the two of them, there is a huge tension. The most ingenious scenes in the film are both based on deception and delay. When we already think that the end here and the tension is at its peak, it finally turns out that the time for the collision has not yet come. What’s more, the scariest series of jump scare images are dwarfed by the meat-crushing tension of the ensuing scene. These little things make The Wonder Child exciting – in an unusual way.
At the same time, in addition to introducing a boy-independent point of view and shifting the well-constructed dramaturgical highlights (which is no small feat), the film is dominated by well-known templates and logical flaws. Such an inconsistency is the already mentioned aggression of the little boy, who is considered to be exceptionally intelligent, not hidden from others, with which he is in trouble. It is also completely incomprehensible why his rough actions have no consequences. If for no other reason, at least in the finals, he should have been under police surveillance for a long time because of his brutal actions with his own hands. It’s hard to start with the illogicality of the plot, even if the film is completely enjoyable without the inexplicable details. There are other shortcomings during the roughly one and a half hours of playing time. A well-known horror film template is the exploration of data (images, stories, sound recordings, motion pictures, etc.) showing the background of an antagonist during some small investigation. The investigation thread is also missing from this work, but it is not one of the strongest parts of the film. And the scene, which is intended to be of paramount importance, depicts hypnosis performed on the title character, and is downright flat. It is a pity that we do not learn too much from the secrets of the true personality of the mysterious protagonist, nor have the creators exploited the possibilities inherent in the subject of reincarnation introduced with great force. This part of the prodigy seems to be explicitly clashed.
A prodigy is a demanding creation recommended for horror fanatics with a warm heart. There is no shortage of excitement until the final. In addition to the scenes that work with delayed tension, play out the highlights naturally expected by the viewers, and operate with deception, some beautiful images give the film a pleasant hue (a beautiful montage is already visible at the first important scene change). The child’s character isn’t as bumpy as life-like it can be. They didn’t put sentences in his mouth that any little boy wouldn’t say in his clean state. Praise goes to all the actors. Jackson Robert Scott, Peter Mooney and Taylor Schilling, who play Miles and his parents, provide a fair, the latter downright excellent performance. Even the Hungarian dubbing went surprisingly well, which is not the case with all films today. The outstanding plus, however, is missing from Nicholas McCarthy’s work. In today’s offer, the opus is basically high-quality, but it does not approach the standard of the iconic children’s horrors in film history. Next time, Lee Cronin will appear with a horror film based on a similar narrative, the innovative nature of which has not been emphasized by Sundance Film Festival audiences and authoritative critics. The Hole in the Ground may come together, which, despite all the demanding endeavors and exciting actions of The Prodigy, has failed.