Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Son, on Shudder

Have you heard it takes a village to raise a child? How about a satanic cult of pedophiles? When the pregnant Laura barely escaped from their clutches, the last thing she wanted was to have her sinisterly-conceived child. However, she changed her mind once her boy David arrived. Now, she will do anything to protect him from his dark legacy in Ivan Kavanagh’s Son, which premieres tomorrow on Shudder.

Initially, it seems like Laura managed to re-start her life working as an elementary school teacher and raising David (with his Prince Valliant haircut). Unfortunately, her nightmarish past catches up with her when she finds a congregation of cultists in David’s room, acting freaky. When sympathetic cop Paul Tate and his impatient partner arrive, they find no sign of forced entry. However, Tate is still supportive when a mysterious, potentially fatal illness befalls David shortly thereafter.

Laura is convinced her old cult somehow “changed” David, with the intention of kidnapping him, to return him to the evil fold. Tate wants to help, but everyone keeps telling him Laura just suffers from severe post-traumatic stress (even though David’s unexplained malady is certainly real enough).

Like Kavanagh’s
The Canal, Son builds tension more from atmosphere and eerie visuals than violent gore or special effects. Kavanagh has a sharp eye, but relatively experienced horror viewers will anticipate every supposedly shocking twist.

Regardless, Andi Matichak is terrific as Laura. Her fear and desperation to protect her son, both from external threats and the uncanny transformation potentially in progress within him, are visceral and compelling. On the other hand, there are issues with supporting players, who are sometimes too obvious or too ploddingly unintuitive.

In some ways,
Son could be read as an allegory for parents of kids who commit acts of violence. They are horrified, but they still love them. It could become zeitgeisty, in the way The Babadook did, but this is actually a better film. It still isn’t the best horror film of the year, but the cult stuff is definitely creepy. Recommended for genre fans, Son starts streaming tomorrow (9/8) on Shudder.