Review: Engaging satantic thriller 'Son' stumbles in execution
Courtesy of RLJE Films
A child with a strange hankering for human flesh goes on the run with his protective mother in writer and director Ivan Kavanagh’s satanic thriller “Son,” which could make Damian from “The Omen” blush. An intriguing premise that steadily loses steam, “Son” paints the narrative of a mother/son duo both struggling with their own forms of mental illness. For Laura (Andi Maticheak who finds the balance between nurturing mother and killer mama bear) those early years of living (and eventually escaping) a demonic cult has bleed into her personal life. She doesn’t know what’s real or repressed trauma and is convinced members of the cult are trying to kidnap her son. From an audience perspective, the challenge becomes weather to believe her or if this is a psychotic break from reality.
For her young son David (Luke David Blumm) - despite Laura’s insistence that cult members broke into her home - he’s developed a strange illness who’s cravings for the human anatomy offer grotesque sequences where the young tyke gets his fill. It’s not for those with weak stomachs and a testament to Kavanagh’s crafty practical effects.
As any concerned mother does, she gets the police involved, asking detective Pete (Emile Hirsch - doing the best with minimal screen-time and filler dialogue) for protection and answers. The two eventually flee when Laura suspects the hospital staff taking care of David - after overhearing private conversations - are members of the cult. Again, we don’t know what tricks Kavanagh is holding up his sleeves, but the dynamic of a mother forced into hiding with a child whose appetite never subsides is eerily fascinating; though once the layers are peeled and Laura goes digging into her childhood, “Son” becomes a tiresome exercise.
The romance between Paul and Laura never sizzles as Hirsch goes through the motions of playing the concerned boyfriend who eventually must choose between his job and relationship. Maticheak and Blumm make a great pair, and their tag-team approach to scoring David his dinner is the best moment in the movie, but it’s hard to overstate how lame the pool of jump scares undercuts the mother/son redemption story. Their quest for salvation drives the movie and watching them attempt to mend a broken past and preserve a better future (despite the iffy execution) is more than what most horror thrillers accomplish.
Still, “Son” is a mixed bag that keeps you invested, but can't resist the urge to stumble into its own spooky traps.
SON is now playing in select theaters and is available via digital and on demand.