The Prodigy (film)

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The Prodigy
The Prodigy poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNicholas McCarthy
Written byJeff Buhler
Produced byTripp Vinson
CinematographyBridger Nielson
Edited by
  • Tom Elkins
  • Brian Ufberg
Music byJoseph Bishara
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Release date
  • February 8, 2019 (2019-02-08) (United States)
Running time
  • 92 minutes
  • 100 minutes (original cut)[1]
  • United States[1]
  • Hong Kong[1]
  • Canada
Budget$6 million[2]
Box office$21.1 million[2][1]

The Prodigy is a 2019 horror film directed by Nicholas McCarthy, and written by Jeff Buhler. It stars Taylor Schilling, Jackson Robert Scott and Colm Feore. 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.[3][4][5][6]

The Prodigy was released in the United States on February 8, 2019, by Orion Pictures. The film grossed over $21 million and received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the performances and atmosphere but criticised the story and dialogue.


On August 22, 2010, in rural Ohio, serial killer Edward Scarka is fatally shot 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 a young age and begins speaking fluently before he is even a toddler.

When Miles turns eight in 2018, Sarah and John begin noticing behavioural changes in him. One night he plays a prank on his babysitter Zoe, seriously injuring her, but claims no memory of the incident. At school, he attacks a classmate with a wrench. Sarah takes Miles to psychiatrist Elaine Strasser and turns over a tape recording of him 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 is, in fact, a rare dialect of Hungarian and that the words translate to "I'll cut your eyes out and watch you die, whore."

Sarah is unwilling to believe Arthur's assertion that an unsettled spirit wants control of the boy's body. 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. Sarah later finds a swarm of flies in the house and discovers the family's dismembered dog in the basement. Miles apologizes, explaining that someone is invading his dreams every night and that he has to "make room."

Sarah takes Miles to see Arthur, who hypnotizes him in the hopes of engaging in past life regression, which will allow him to speak to the dark spirit in Miles' body. The regression is successful and the individual explains that his parents were Hungarian immigrants. The session goes awry when Miles threatens to accuse Arthur of drugging and molesting him, which prompts Arthur to end the session. Afterwards, Arthur finds "Scarka" carved into his leather couch from the boy's fingernails. He calls Sarah and explains that he believes Miles' body is being possessed by Edward Scarka, attempting to return to continue his killing spree.

Upon researching Edward, Sarah finds he died only minutes before Miles' birth and is startled to see that, like Miles, he had two different-coloured eyes. John and Sarah decide to have Miles committed, but Miles stabs John en route to the facility, causing him to crash; John goes into a coma as a result of the accident. In Miles' 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. She decides to kill Margaret herself, ending Edward's need for Miles' body. She drugs Miles with sleeping pills and the two drive to Margaret's rural farmhouse. Sarah poses as a battered woman who was touched by Margaret's book, persuading Margaret to allow her inside. She then draws a gun but is unable to bring herself to shoot. Miles enters and brutally attacks Margaret with a butcher knife, stabbing and disemboweling her. Sarah chases Miles outside 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, and Miles' soul has already been vanquished.

Horrified, Sarah attempts to shoot him, but before she can, a farmer shoots her with a rifle, killing her instantly. Sometime 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 the image of Edward.




In June 2018, Orion Pictures announced that the film, originally titled Descendants, would be released in February 2019, with Nicholas McCarthy directing, Jeff Buhler writing, and Taylor Schilling starring in the lead role. Daniel Bekerman, Lisa Zambri, Nick Spicer and Jeff Buhler will serve as executive producers.[7]

During the film's production, Orion Pictures' president John Hegeman said about the project in a statement:

Descendant is a unique and terrifying addition to the horror genre and we are looking forward to working with Nicholas, Tripp and Taylor in bringing Jeff’s script to life."[8]

In October 2018, 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.[9]

The film includes an interview with another family who believed their child had memories of a previous life. That was actual footage of a real interview about James Leininger, whose parents believed his nightmares about plane crashes were caused by having had a previous life as a World War II pilot.


By June 2018, Jackson Robert Scott, Peter Mooney, Colm Feore and Brittany Allen were cast in the film.[10]


Principal photography on the film began in March 2018 and wrapped in the same month in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The dark orchestral score was composed by Joseph Bishara and released on vinyl in 2019 by Waxwork Records.[11]


The film was released in the United States on February 8, 2019, by Orion Pictures.


Box office[edit]

The Prodigy has grossed $14.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.2 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $21.1 million, against a production budget of $6 million.[1]

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.[12] 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.[13]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 43% based on 82 reviews, with an average rating of 5/10. 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."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[15] 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".[16][13]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Prodigy (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "The Prodgy (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  3. ^ MovieFone (June 28, 2018). "The Prodigy". Movie Fone. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  4. ^ "The Prodigy Trailer & Poster: Taylor Schilling's Son Has Issues". Screen Rant. October 22, 2018. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  5. ^ Evans, Greg (October 22, 2018). "'The Prodigy' Teaser: Something Evil Is Inside Sweet Little Miles And Wants Out". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  6. ^ ""What's Wrong With Miles?" in the First Trailer for The Prodigy". Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  7. ^ Brad Miska (June 28, 2018). "Orion Sets 'The Pact' Director's 'The Prodigy' for Early 2019 Release". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  8. ^ Mia Galuppo (February 2018). "Taylor Schilling to Lead Thriller 'Descendant' for Orion Pictures (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 18, 2019.
  9. ^ Collis, Clark (October 29, 2018). "'The Prodigy' director had to re-edit horror film because of a test audience's screaming". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  10. ^ Brad Miska (June 28, 2018). "Orion Sets 'The Pact' Director's 'The Prodigy' for Early 2019 Release". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  11. ^ Thiessen, Brock (February 8, 2019). "'The Prodigy' Gets Soundtrack Release and It's "Possessed"". Exclaim!. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  12. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 5, 2018). "'The Lego Movie 2' Will Put The Box Office Back Together Again With $50M+ Opening". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  13. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 10, 2018). "'Lego Movie 2' Comes Apart With $34M+ Opening; 'What Men Want' Solid With $19M In Another Blasé B.O. Weekend". Deadline Hollywood.
  14. ^ "The Prodigy (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  15. ^ "The Prodigy reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  16. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Prodigy" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved February 11, 2019.

External links[edit]