Films about children in jeopardy usually grab my interest right away. But Prodigy focuses on more than that. The child in question not only faces ďa life-or-deathĒ situation, she also has the ability to cause horrible disasters of her own. Savannah Liles, the young actress playing this difficult role, delivers a remarkable performance. And Richard Neil, who portrays the unconventional psychologist brought in to analyze this dangerous child, matches Lilesí excellent work by projecting just the right combination of compassion and fear in their riveting scenes together.
Most of this thriller deals with a fascinating battle of wits between Dr. Fonda (Neil) and Ellie (Likes). Yes, we have seen similar interactions in films like The Exorcist, but this offering does a better job of emphasizing humanistic values and dedication to the needs of the client despite the peril involved.
Prodigy makes your blood curdle.
Psychologist meets deadly girl.
He doesnít know whatís in for him,
and hasnít read her file thatís grim.
The nine-year-old has powers great.
Talking with her reveals such hate!
A genius child with issues deep,
her fatalism makes us weep.
But what a treat to watch them talk
as doctor says he will not balk.
He wants to help this youngster find
the buried secrets in her mind.
Danger lurks with every phrase.
A chess game causes hairs to raise.
This horror film deserves to be
put on your list as one to see.
Written and directed by Alex Haughey and Brian Vidal, Prodigy ends up as a promising first full-length feature for this inventive filmmaking duo. I am impressed with the serious look of the movie, which takes place in a tightly guarded high security setting. Hisonni Johnson and Genaro Marzanís fine understated cinematography as well as Vidalís low-key but scary visual effects help make the film appear very real -- not an easy task when dealing with superhuman powers.
Kudos also to a strong supporting cast including Jolene Anderson as the caring supervisor of this secret government project and to Emilio Palame as a team member with a completely negative attitude about the psychologist even talking to Ellie.
Filled with exquisite suspense, Prodigy earns a place on my list of favorite contemporary thrillers.
The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last. --- Orson Welles
(Released by Gravitas Ventures and rated TV-MA. Available now on Netflix. )
For more information, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.