Parental Fears Are Birthed in Cult Thriller Son (2021)
First Wide Release: March 5, 2021 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Ivan Kavanaugh
Writer: Ivan Kavanaugh
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Starring: Andi Matichak, Emile Hirsch, Luke David Blumm
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Laura (Andi Matichak) escapes the abuse of the cult that tortured her for years just in time to give birth to her baby boy. Flash forward eight years later and her son, David (Luke David Blumm) contracts a mysterious illness after an incident where members from her cult broke into her house to do something despicable to him. Or at least that is what she believes. There’s no trace of them and most people around her refuse to believe her. How far is Laura willing to go to save her son? And what is she willing to do to keep him alive?
Son is a middling child horror film that raises some interesting points while rehashing others.
This film starts out on a familiar note. The initial setup shows how Laura pieced her life together after enduring what must have been a difficult life on the run from a cult who is relentless and connected. Things go awry when she believes the cult found her again and sneaked into her home to afflict David with a mysterious illness. Believing her captors are closing in she takes David and runs, finding out soon that David can only be cured by feeding him human flesh and blood. This is where Son tries to be shocking but it treads ground that’s been covered by many films before it.
Performance-wise, Son hits all the notes it needs to hit. Andi Matichak sells her performance of Laura very well. You can feel the mixture of desperation, fear, and love with every look and word. Acting from the supporting characters can venture on shaky but their presence isn’t felt as much as the core cast, so it isn’t much of a problem. David’s character struck me as different from other “evil children” in horror films. He’s not inherently and actively doing bad things. He also isn’t possessed into doing maleficence Luke David Blumm straddles that line of a presence to care for and one to fear exceptionally well for his age.
At its core, Son tells the story of how powerful trauma can be and how we are inclined to view those who have experienced trauma as unstable and unable to be trusted. Is Laura really on the run or is she losing it? That’s the central question being posited by Son. This is mixed in with parenthood and how far Laura is willing to go to keep David alive if it means hurting others. It all plays out predictably, but they are fair questions to ask and entertaining enough to kill time before it loses steam in its third act.
Son does what is expected of it and that’s fine. It has good effects and a few good shock scares here and there, but nothing too memorable. The cinematography is rote and the set design is average. Most of this feature is just alright. It’s a capable horror that doesn’t break much new ground both in story and technical aspects. The one area Son shines is its editing. I appreciate the frantic editing and incorporation of flashbacks from Laura’s experience growing up. They feel more natural and intriguing than typical memory flashes from other films.
Overall, the issue with Son is that it feels so safe. Despite being a very fine movie, it just doesn’t differentiate itself from the pack of very similarly themed films, even released in the past few years. Peppered with moments where glimmers of genuinely intriguing ideas shine through, Son is eclipsed by its familiar script and weak development. With some more focus on David’s character and trimming, or cutting altogether, some of the weaker subplots, Son could emerge as a more engaging and stronger work. It won’t inspire a cult following, but Son will certainly provide adequate thrills for those searching for parental horror.
Overall Score? 5.5/10