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  Son Cast Out The Devil Child!
Year: 2021
Director: Ivan Kavanagh
Stars: Andi Matichak, Emile Hirsch, Luke David Blumm, Cranston Johnson, Blaine Maye, J. Robert Spencer, Rocco Sisto, Kristine Nielsen, Erin Bradley Dangar, Adam Stephenson, David Kallaway, Ethan McDowell, Wanetah Walmsley, Garret Kruithof, Craig Leydecker
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A few years ago, Laura (Andi Matichak) was pregnant and fleeing for her very life as she found herself trying to evade the sinister cult that had impregnated her - she wanted to save the baby, as she feared a sacrifice was in the offing, but as it transpired she gave birth in her car, by the roadside, having evaded two cult members who had been tracking her. Now, the baby is David (Luke David Blumm), and he attends school like any normal kid, unaware of his origins. But one evening, after putting him to bed, Laura is moved to check on the boy, believing him to have suffered a nightmare. Yet when she enters his room, a group of strangers stare right back at her...

If you were to look back on the years of Donald Trump's Presidency, and its aftermath, you could trace what people were afraid of by the horror movies that emerged around that time. Horror was a very efficient gauge of what was preoccupying any one population or society, and if there were two examples you could read a lot into, it was the re-emergence of the Satanic cult movie, and the "patient turns monstrous" movie. In the case of Irish director Ivan Kavanagh's Son, you had both strands interwoven into the same plotline as David is sought after by a cult, but falls victim to a mystery ailment that has an unexpected effect on him and spurs him on to strange behaviour.

What to read into these subgenres? With the growing prevalence of conspiracy theorists, people who could be your friends or family who were precisely the types preyed on by online communities who made much of a paranoid worldview, it was perhaps little shock that chillers would present outwardly normal but inwardly corrupted drones as villains, doing the bidding of wider forces they barely understood and blamed others for the evils of the globe. These were neatly summed up in the movie's concept of Satanists, those Church of Satan jokers who made pranks of their beliefs not having caught on in fiction really any more than they had in reality, despite their best efforts.

Blame the religious right for that, but the other strain, the monstrous patients, had something to say as well, deriving from the terror that you may have someone dependent on you who will never release that grip of neediness. You could see that as evidence of the ageing population who were looking more and more to the young to look after them, but that did not quite fit in here where Laura is endeavouring to improve her sick son's lot, so we should seek a psychological theme which again tied in with the disquiet of witnessing a loved one twisted by outside forces that corrupted their innocence and transformed them reactionary, potentially violent and cold-hearted. Yes, David still loves and trusts his mother, but everyone else better watch out.

The other player here was Emile Hirsch as Paul, a detective who befriends Laura when he is called to her house after she believes she has had a break-in. He is sympathetic to the point of a lack of professionalism where he provides more than a shoulder to cry on, he wants a tongue sandwich as well, though he is brought back down to earth when the child has one of his mystery seizures. However, it is he who brings the musings over delusions into sharper relief: Laura was supposedly a survivor of a Devil-worshipping paedophile ring, but then again this may be a product of her deranged imagination that is coming back to haunt her. Though of course, if it is, how do we explain her son's strange condition? Could it be the delusion is affecting more than one character? Whose point of view are we seeing this from, anyway? Is there a madness spreading outward from Laura's damaged mind, or are the dark forces genuine? Even at the close, this is not as clear as it seems (and frankly, the dialogue could be clearer too), but this was a well-put together assembly of its era's current paranoias. Music by Aza Hand.

[SON - Premieres 8 July 2021 **A Shudder Original Film.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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