Written by: Matt Patti | July 7th, 2021
Son (Ivan Kavanagh, 2021) 3 out of 4 stars.
Director Ivan Kavanagh’s new horror-thriller Son follows the story of a mother with a questionable past and her mysterious son. The film begins with a pregnant woman named Laura (Andi Matichak, the 2018 Halloween) frantically leaving a diner at night as three men follow her out. She drives away quickly and ends up giving birth in her car. Years later, Laura has settled down with her son David (Luke David Blumm, The King of Staten Island) and is living a peaceful life in the suburbs. However, one night Laura opens David’s bedroom door to find a group of strangers standing over him. The police arrive before they can harm David, but shortly after the event he begins to fall ill and exhibit strange behavior. Soon, David’s condition worsens and doctors cannot determine what is wrong with him. Thus, Laura must revisit old demons of her past to obtain answers about her child’s origin to help save him.
More eerie and unnerving than scary, Son excels at making the viewer question the events that take place. The film presents an intriguing competing narrative as the audience attempts to figure out if something supernatural is happening to David or if Laura’s unstable past is causing her to imagine things. The mystery behind Laura’s early life is a compelling plot point that keeps the viewer engaged. There are enough twists and turns throughout the film to keep us guessing and questioning reality up until the end.
The film makes it easy to sympathize with our two main characters. Matichak and Blumm give exceptional performances as Laura and David. The relationship between the two holds our attention, as Kavanagh presents a genuine, heartwarming bond between mother and son. Laura’s character is especially noteworthy, as she is smart, resilient and crafty in her tireless efforts to protect her son. David is also unlike most creepy horror kids, sometimes terrifying and at other times sweet and innocent.
The film does have some issues with clichés, though. For example, the first half is littered with typical creepy visions and dream sequences that most horror films use. There are also some outcomes that are quite predictable to the trained horror veteran’s eye. I also feel like the filmmakers could’ve done better with their use of practical effects, as many of the gory scenes look cheaply made and some major horror happenings are not shown on camera, leading me to believe that they did not have the time or budget to show some of the bloody details of some scenes. Nonetheless, Son is still an effective horror film with intriguing mystery, surprising reveals, believable performances, and great chemistry between its two leads. In the end, Son shows the unsettling truth behind what a tragic past can do to someone, and the horrifying lengths that a mother will go to save her son.