Tag Archives: Jackson Robert Scott

Spare the Rod

The Prodigy

by Hope Madden

There is nothing especially wrong with The Prodigy, director Nicholas McCarthy’s take on the Bad Seed formula. Not much right about it, either.

Sarah (Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black) is starting to think there’s something wrong with her son, Miles (Jackson Robert Scott). He’s just too smart, and he doesn’t ever want to play with other kids. Plus there was that wrench bashing incident.

Luckily he speaks Hungarian in his sleep and his psychologist has a friend whose research is a little out of the ordinary…

How do we find an original take on the murderous offspring? Straight up psycho’s been done. Same with satanic possession, zombies, rabies, pet semataries…

Writer Jeff Buhler (the upcoming Pet Sematary) dreams up an adequate vehicle that allows us to watch the battle between innocence and evil rage inside Scott’s lovely, wide eyes.

Wisely, the film is a bit less concerned with who’s winning that battle than it is with the lengths a parent will go in order to save her child. It’s the slightly less traveled road, and one that Schilling journeys fairly convincingly.

Scott likewise convinces in a tough role for a child, oscillating between frightened boy and cold blooded psychopath deftly enough to leave trace of one in the other at times to keep you guessing who’s who.

It’s just so hard not to feel like you’ve seen this movie before. The dad says stick with medical science, but the mom is willing to chase these crazy spiritual theories that conveniently leapt into her lap. And, of course, there has to be a mysterious path toward fixing the problem that she stumbles upon, because cosmic evil is tidy like that.

The bigger problem is the leaden pacing and lack of action. McCarthy may be going for an atmospheric dread, but the result feels stagnant and drowsy.

Which is too bad because the movie has some redeeming qualities—a late-film performance from Brittany Allen (It Stains the Sands Red), for one. Cookie-cutter plotting and flat direction keeps it from taking advantage of solid performances, though, and leaving you wishing for something more.

Fun & Games


by Hope Madden

Clowns are fun, aren’t they?

Back in ’86, Stephen King released the novel It, about a bunch of New England kids plagued by a flesh-hungry monster who showed itself as whatever scared them the most. Like, say, a clown.

The basic premise of It is this: little kids are afraid of everything, and that’s just good thinking.

Four years later, It made its way to TV as a miniseries, the first episode of which is one of the most terrifying things ever to grace the small screen, much thanks to the unforgettable presence of Tim Curry as Pennywise the clown.

It’s been 27 years, and as the story itself dictates, the time has come for It to return.

The Derry, Maine “losers club” finds itself in 1988 in this adaptation, an era that not only brings the possibility of Part 2 much closer to present day, but it gives the pre-teen adventures a nostalgic and familiar quality.

Though The Goonies this is not. Nor is it made for TV.

This version shares a lot of tonal qualities with one of the best King adaptations, Stand By Me. Both are bittersweet tales of the early bonds that help you survive your own childhood.

Bill Skarsgård has the unenviable task of following a letter-perfect Curry in the role of Pennywise. Those are some big clown shoes to fill, but Skarsgård is up to the challenge. His Pennywise is more theatrical, more of an exploitation of all that’s inherently macabre and grotesque about clowns.

Is he better than the original? Let’s not get nutty here, but he is great.

He and the kids really make this work. The young cast is led by the always strong Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special), and he’s surrounded by very strong support. Sophia Lillis charms as the shiniest gem in the losers’ club, and Finn Wolfhard (that is a name!) is a scream as the foul mouthed class clown Richie.

The almost inexcusably cute Jackson Robert Scott is little, doomed Georgie, he of the yellow slicker.

In keeping with that Eighties theme, both characters cast as minorities—the Jewish Stanely Uris (Wyatt Oleff) and African American “Homeschool” Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs)—are noticeably underwritten.

So, they weren’t perfect, but the team adapting for this go-round got a lot right.

The best Stephen King adaptations are those with writers who know how to prune and refocus. Luckily, newcomer Chase Palmer, longtime horror writer Gary Dauberman and, maybe most importantly, Cary Fukunaga (who wrote Beasts of No Nation) are on it.

The trio streamlines King’s more unwieldy plot turns and bloat, creating a much-appreciated focus.

Director Andy Muschietti shows great instinct for taking advantage of foreground, background and sound. Yes, It relies heavily on jump scares, but Muschietti’s approach to plumbing your fear has more depth than that and he manages your rising terror expertly.