The new horror film Son keeps viewers on their toes as we watch a young mother fighting to be believed after her son falls ill with a mysterious sickness, in the latest film from writer/director Ivan Kavanagh.
Son opens in the past, showing a young woman fleeing into the night before giving birth in the seat of her car, repeating to herself ‘I don’t want it’ over and over again. After this the action jumps forwards several years as we see Laura (Andi Matichak) now living a peaceful life with her son David (Luke David Blumm). When Laura hears strange noises coming from her son’s room one night she investigates to find a crowd of people in the room with him.
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However, when the police arrive they find no evidence of anyone having been in the room other than her and David, and the only person who seems to believe his is one lone detective, Paul (Emile Hirsch). Not long after the incident David falls violently ill, throwing up huge quantities of blood, becoming covered in bruises and open wounds, and falling into a coma. The doctors are unable to explain any of it, but Laura is convinced that she knows what’s happening. She reveals to Paul that she ran away from a cult years ago, and thinks that they’ve come for her son. Now Laura is determined to get away with David before the cult return to finish what they started with him.
Son has a pretty interesting concept behind it, particularly because for much of the film we’re being kept guessing as to what’s really happening. There are certain things that we cannot deny, such as David falling ill with a mystery sickness, and the bodies that begin to stack up across the course of the story, but everything else is left something of a mystery. We get to go along with Laura and see what she sees, this cult stalking them, and possible connections to demonic entities, but, we’re also presented with the possibility that this is all a delusion in her mind, and that we’re seeing only what she believes is real and not what is actually real.
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This heightens the tension of the movie, as you’re left wondering if anything you’ve seen is real or not. Some may argue that it takes some of the fear factor away, that there might not be an evil cult hunting this mother and her son, but if anything I think it keeps you more on edge as you begin to question if the hero of the film might actually be the villain; especially when she begins to perform some morally questionable actions to help her son.
You get the sense throughout Son that it’s been in part inspired by some of the classic demon child films in horror, such as The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby, though instead of focusing on the horror of having a child being host to dark forces it instead makes the unconditional love that a mother has for her child the main theme. And Andi Matichak is superb at this, and gives an incredibly strong performance. She manages to walk the fine line between fierce strength and crippling terror, making her incredibly believable as a mother desperately trying to hold her family together.
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Luke David Blumm also gives an incredibly strong performance, one that’s impressive for such a young actor, especially because of some of the physical demands of the role as he’s writhing and contorting during scenes where the sickness is tearing him apart inside. These moments are augmented by both make-up effects and frankly disgusting sounds, but his performance very much sells these moments too.
Son is a violent, gory, film filled with twists and turns that will keep you interested and engaged, and will leave you feeling pretty satisfied come the ending. Yes, much of it is a mystery throughout, but once those final credits roll I think you’ll be left with something of a grin on your face as everything clicks into place. Whilst it does feel more like a psychological drama than overt horror at times, it’s still a thoroughly entertaining movie.
Son premieres on the 8th July on Shudder.