It’s a straight forward movie with no complications. You will like it for the simplicity of it and the tight storytelling. It’s a fresh divergent from the usual horror plot.
The Prodigy shares similar traits to movies like The Omen and Chucky, where you have a boy with bad intentions minus the priest and end-of-the-world supernatural aspect. The Prodigy explores the themes of reincarnation. Is reincarnation real and what if the soul of a serial killer reincarnates in the body of your new born child?
The Prodigy lays out the storyline in the first fifteen minutes of the show with a brilliant montage of a serial killer getting caught and gunned down in Ohio in the exact same time a new born child, Miles, is delivered in a hospital Pennsylvania. You immediately know what the next 75 minutes of the show is going to be. This is followed with more montages of the boy growing older exhibiting genius-like qualities for a child and some odd anti-social behaviour. The clock stops when the boy turns 8 years old and that’s when the horror officially begins. The technique works given that the movie expects audience to fall on prior knowledge of similar horror films to scare themselves with anticipation. Most of the scares are in our own heads. The setting is simple and revolves around a typical suburban house in America: long corridors, creaky floorboards, dark basement, staircases, ample living space, and rooms that are separated far apart.
This movie though low budget (6 million USD) is very well produced relying on skillful storytelling and great acting. The mother-son pair of Taylor Schilling and Jackson Robert Scott delivers powerful performance often times with just a turn of facial expressions. Scott, born in 2008, first made his Hollywood debut as Georgie in the Stephen King horror movie IT in 2017, is reminiscent of Haley Joel Osment from sixth sense.
The scene where Miles interacts with his therapist and reincarnation expert is one that I reckon would make the list of memorable classic horror moments and probably cement Scott’s career as the next horror child actor. This movie doesn’t deviate too far from the desperate-mother-trying-to-fight- evil-in-child trope but do expect some twists to the story which have critics divided over what to feel. The end feels like they have left enough room for there to be a sequel. Considering that the movie has grossed almost 18 million dollars, three times more than what it cost, in the opening week alone, I say we can expect a sequel to be in the works.
On to the theme of reincarnation, there’s a line in the movie that says this belief is common in Asia but not so in western culture. That much is true. Reincarnation is the central tenet in religions like Hindism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. Taoism believes in the afterlife and some even some minor Christian and Islamic denominations speaks of reincarnation in their doctrine.
Reincarnation is perhaps one of the few supernatural topics that has been researched extensively and proven to be real. Though “real” is debatable here because sceptics are still claiming that the memories of a young child knowing exact details of a deceased is purely a coincidence.
In a story told to me by a spiritual healer, there was a patient who came to him reporting a terrible migraine that wouldn’t go away. He never had it before growing up but strangely on the night of his twenty second birthday the back of his head started aching. The usual MRI and CT scan showed no abnormally and doctors couldn’t diagnose the cause of the pain. It was then that someone suggested he visited a hypnotic therapist for a past live regression session. It turned out that the man was murdered at the age of twenty two with a blow to his head and has reincarnated into this body bearing the traumas of the previous life. His mother later confirmed that the man had a large birthmark at the spot of the killing blow. The spiritual healer was recommended to help the soul reconcile and release past karmic impressions.
Check out the links to other reincarnation stories of famous people and podcast with Dr. Jim Tucker a Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences who works with children who report memories of previous lives.
Eugene Tay is a retired paranormal investigator and the author of the book Supernatural Confessions.