Son (2021)

Emile Hirsch and Andi Matichak in a scene from the horror film "Son" (image courtesy RLJE Films and Shudder) 

Review

SON (2021)

Andi Matichak, Emile Hirsch, Luke David Blumm, Rocco Sisto, Kristine Nielsen,

Wanetah Walmsley, Ethan McDowell, Cranston Johnson, David Kallaway

Directed by Ivan Kavanagh

With shades of “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Let the Right One In” writer-director Ivan Kavanagh explores the bond between a mother and her son and the lengths she would go to protect him in the new horror thriller “Son.” Andi Matichak, who played the granddaughter of Jamie Lee Curtis in 2018’s “Halloween” reboot, takes on the maternal role as Laura, a single mom whose son David (Luke David Blumm) falls terribly ill after being visited in the middle of the night by a group of strangers. Emile Hirsch plays the detective working the case that gets stranger by the minute. Blood, gore, and a shocking ending make this a worthy entry to the horror genre.

Kavanagh sets the tone with a prologue that features young mother Laura (Matichak) giving birth in the front seat of a car on a stormy night. “I don’t want you!” she screams as the child enters the world. It’s easy to imagine a scenario similar to Larry Cohen’s 1974 classic “It’s Alive” but with that first cry to kick start the baby’s lungs, we get a glimpse of Laura’s beautiful baby boy and our fears are rescinded.

Fast forward eight years to the present where we see Laura’s son David (Blumm) preparing for another day of school. He’s a healthy-looking kid, full of energy and questions, who obviously shares a close bond with his single mom. Laura’s fears on that rainy night almost a decade ago have all but vanished, the lighthearted background music evokes a sense of calmness but that’s about to change as the narrative begins a rapid descent into an infernal abyss.

The first jolt happens when Laura checks on David believing he’s having a nightmare from playing scary video games only to discover a room full of adults standing around her son’s bed. The bedroom door quickly slams shut leaving Laura locked out. In what resembles a scene from John Carpenter’s “Halloween” the terrified mom runs out of the house screaming for help from the neighbors. The police arrive on the scene led by detective Paul (Hirsch) only to find no intruders in the home and no signs of forced entry.

The nightmare escalates when David develops a red rash all over his body forcing him into convulsions stumping doctors in the ER, “We don’t know what this is” adding “His condition is worsening by the second and we can hardly keep up.”

Paul becomes sympathetic to Laura and her son after failing to uncover any evidence of intruders in her home including fingerprints, but he never insinuates that she’s lying and vows to find those responsible for what may be happening to David, one theory being that he was poisoned.

Laura and her son become fugitives after she takes matters into her own hands and flees the hospital with David, a desperate mother willing to do anything to protect her son. A crime is committed, and Paul begins searching for the mother-son by traversing the highways and roads of rural Missouri while picking up clues along the way including Laura's past which involves abuse and signs of a Satanic cult.

“Son” benefits from the first-rate performances by the cast. Matichak who can be seen reprising her role as Allyson in the upcoming “Halloween Kills” and “Halloween Ends” from David Gordon Green, is convincing as the frightened yet determined mom willing to go to extreme measures to save her son. Blumm, last seen in “The King of Staten Island” is a natural as David. The young actor never exaggerates his performance even while handling some pretty grueling scenes.

The film also marks the second time Emile Hirsch has landed in a worthy addition to the genre after a terrific performance in the truly frightening “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” from 2016. His role as Paul is played very low-key and always from the point of compassion which heightens the film’s shocking conclusion leaving nothing to the imagination.

Kavanagh is responsible for the haunting chiller “The Canal” released seven years ago. “Son” marks his second collaboration with Hirsch after the two worked together on the director’s last film, the outlaw drama “Never Grow Old.” Filled with disturbing scenes, plenty of blood and gore, and more than one ghastly moment, “Son” delivers the chills if not the jumps.

(3 stars)

Now showing in theaters and available for rent on-Demand.

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Joe Friar is a member of the Critics Choice Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. A lifelong fan of cinema, he co-founded the Victoria Film Society, Frels Fright Fest, and is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic. 

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Joe Friar is a member of the Critics Choice Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. A lifelong fan of cinema, he co-founded the Victoria Film Society, Frels Fright Fest, and is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic.

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