WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

PLUGGED IN RATING

    No Rating Available

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Talulah always knew there was something wrong with that kid. Dogs just have a nose for this sort of thing. But the boy's parents are a little slower on the uptake.

It's not their fault, really. Sarah and John love 8-year-old Miles, after all—as tenderly and as sacrificially as any parent would. And not many parenting books unpack the risks of a child's body being shared by a dead serial killer. So they weren't too alarmed when Miles began to speak Hungarian in his sleep (which they assumed was gibberish at first). Or when he started asking for paprika on all his dinners.

True, when Miles pounded a fellow student nearly to death with a wrench … well, that was more concerning. Still, nothing a good psychologist and some tender loving care couldn't deal with, right?

But Talulah knows better. She can sense the presence in the boy's body. She growls when that "other thing" is near. She stares at the lad suspiciously when the kid's eating his paprika-loaded dinners.

Too bad that Talulah can't tell her owners all about Miles. Too bad she can't help Sarah and John see or hear or even smell what's going on with their son.

Too bad that Miles found that pair of garden sheers, too.

Positive Elements

It's certainly not John and Sarah's fault that Miles is a little … different. They love their little lad, and even when they see that something's seriously wrong with the kid, they do everything in their power to help him.

At one point, Miles asks to sleep in his mother's bed. He curls up next to Sarah and puts his hand on her shoulder—a strangely threatening gesture, given that Sarah's beginning to see the depths of Miles' "sickness."

"Will you always love me, no matter what I do?" Miles says.

Sarah—filled with fear and revulsion, but maternal love and compassion as well—says, "Yes, Miles. I will always love you." That's a seriously nice sentiment, and true as well. Too bad that Miles isn't always Miles.

Spiritual Content

Demon possession is soooo 2015, apparently. Though evil, possessed children have been a staple of horror flicks for decades, this film takes the more Eastern, vaguely New Agey tack of reincarnation. We get a quick mini-lecture on its popularity throughout much of the world, and we hear that it's "only foreign to Western minds."

Dr. Arthur Jacobson is the first to truly recognize Miles' condition for what it is. He's described as an "aging hippie" living off his inheritance. But he's also an expert in reincarnation and tells stories that, he hopes, prove its veracity.

He first meets Sarah, incidentally, in an office where we can see an old Gothic church outside. Eventually, Arthur convinces Sarah to bring Miles in for a hypnosis session, where Arthur hopes to peel back time and discover the other guy living in Miles' body.

Sexual Content

Alas for Arthur, Miles—or rather the guy inside Miles—is a step ahead. This so-called regression therapy seems to work, but Edward (the serial killer inhabiting Miles) tells Arthur that he took some drugs out of Arthur's medicine cabinet and took them—and picked some pubic hairs off Arthur's toilet and stuck them in his teeth, too. If Arthur doesn't back off, Edward will say that Miles fell asleep in the office (because of the drugs in his system) and woke up as Arthur was sexually abusing him. If Arthur dares deny it, a blood test will prove that Miles was suspiciously drugged.

In flashback, we see Edward—apparently completely naked, gunned down by police. (Critical parts are strategically covered.)

Violent Content

Edward is a brutal killer. We see evidence of that in a flashback to when he had his own body. His last would-be victim escapes and is found along the side of the road, missing a hand. When Edward is shot and killed (bullets bloodily perforating his torso), he's holding that missing hand, now gray and beginning to rot. We're told the missing hands were Edward's killing calling card. We're also told, repeatedly, that he removed the hands before he killed his victims. We see several pictures of bloodied, disfigured corpses and their disembodied hands.

Once he takes up residence inside Miles (when the boy is just a newborn), Edward starts relatively slowly. We Miles as a toddler crush a spider in his bare hands. He takes the wrench and pounds his classmate with it. (Most of the actual blows, at least in this case, are just suggested.) He also tricks his babysitter to walk down the basement stairs and step on a broken glass bottle: A massive shard of glass (along with several smaller ones) bloodily embeds itself in her food, and she has to pull it out.

And when his "gibberish" is translated from its native Hungarian, we learn the little boy was apparently speaking to a past victim—threatening to cut her eyes out if she didn't stop crying.

When the family's dog goes missing, John—Miles' father—takes Miles out to help him search. Miles creepily speculates that maybe the dog was hit by a car. He says that when dogs die, they like to die alone. "We all have to go sometime," Miles says, turning to his dad. "Even you."

We don't see Miles kill the dog. But when Sarah follows a fly infestation down to the basement, where she finds the animal's bloody corpse (minus its paws) hidden underneath a work table. (She keeps the corpse around to show her husband, and so we also see it again.)

A woman is stabbed several times, a knife ripping across her midsection and stabbing the palm of her hand. She does not survive. Someone else is stabbed in the side while driving: The car hurtles into a tree, and we later see the victim lying in a hospital bed. (Doctors say they'll keep the victim in a coma for several months, then determine if the victim has any brain damage.) Two people are shot and killed.

Miles tells a social worker that someone is "hurting" him. Sarah initially seems to suspect John, who was himself physically abused by his own father. John's not abusing Miles, but when Miles enrages John at one point, John looks like he's close to physical violence. He spends some nights away from home to "cool down."

Miles plays a violent, shoot-em-up video game (and seems to relish it). Right after he's born, Miles' infant body is dotted with blood matching where Edward's own bullet wounds were.

Crude or Profane Language

We hear one f-word—uttered apparently by the 8-year-old Miles. The s-word is used three times, and we also hear several uses of "h---." God's name is misused twice, and Jesus' name is abused once.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Sarah and John go out on a "date night," which consists of them sitting in a car drinking beer. Sarah reminisces about the days when they were "kidless, drunk all the time and everything was so much fun." John says, "Well, we're still drunk all the time."

We see another character drink wine. The glass bottle that the babysitter steps on appears to have once held beer.

Other Negative Elements

Miles is very advanced for his age. Is his intelligence native to Miles? Is it part of Edward? Who knows, but Edward uses it to his advantage, designing a contraption to listen in on Sarah and John as they talk. Several people lie to each other—sometimes with the best intentions, and sometimes not.

Conclusion

Horror movies are built on subverting our highest ideals and playing on our deepest fears. So in a way, The Prodigy knows just where to aim: After all, perhaps no ideal is more celebrated than a mother's love for her child. Perhaps no fear is deeper than the thought that something's seriously broken in our child—something that we have no idea how to fix.

If the great theologian Augustine was around today, plunking down money for seedy horror films, he might draw an interesting parallel between movies like The Prodigy and how he believed the devil himself works: Unable to create, Satan can only twist and pervert. God's gifts are turned into the world's temptations and troubles and sins.

Perhaps that's why movies like The Prodigy get under our skin. It's by design: The plot twists something so good and turns it into something so horrible. The fact that Sarah and John love Miles so much compounds evil and horror they must deal with as the story wears on.

But The Prodigy, for all its unabashed cruelty and grotesquery, is less effective as a horror movie than it could've been. Perhaps that's because it tries to craft a coherent supernatural rationale for Edward's reincarnation while wholly misunderstanding the spiritual tradition of its own trope.

You see, Edward is no demon, no hellish creature: He's merely a killer whose life force has mystically, mysteriously invaded an innocent child. But that spiritually incoherent plot device doesn't jibe with any religion that I'm aware of that teaches reincarnation. And that inconsistency makes The Prodigy an even more muddled mess—albeit a scary mess peppered with jump scenes and ominous foreboding, but lacking any sort of point.

The Prodigy is indeed horrific, and in the worst sorts of ways. This horror film kills with abandon, mutilates with gusto and has absolutely nothing at all to say.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Taylor Schilling as Sarah; Jackson Robert Scott as Miles; Paul Fauteux as Edward; Colm Feore as Arthur Jacobson; Brittany Allen as Margaret St. James; Peter Mooney as John Oluniké; Adeliyi as Rebecca

Director

Nicholas McCarthy ( )

Distributor

Orion Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

February 8, 2019

On Video

May 7, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!