Before taking on Michael Myers later this year Andi Matichak returns in this new thriller SON. A film that ironically resembles a scenario presented in a previous Halloween film regarding a cult. Carried mostly by Matichak’s impressive acting, SON begins on a high note, utilizes an engaging narrative, and creates this horrific atmosphere. At some point, the film’s appeal grows dull but Matichak’s performance makes it all worth it.
SON’s energetic opening will keep you engaged till its lackluster closing and the film does a great job at introducing its lead character, who is suffering from trauma due to a horrific past she escaped a couple of years back. Moments of unease and tension stick around for most of the film’s runtime, but then certain aspects fall short due to the narrative decisions. Directed and written by Ivan Cavanaugh, SON stars Luke Blumm, Emile Hirsch, Cranston Johnson, David Kallaway, and Andi Matichak. The film follows Laura (Matichak), who escaped a cult that raised her eight years ago while pregnant. Now raising her son David (Blumm), Laura believes the cult has returned after David starts experiencing an unexplained illness.
Cavanaugh takes viewers on a very unnerving look at just how far a mother could go for her child. A mother’s love knows no boundary is a sentiment many would agree with, but Laura’s situation is unique. She has managed to live a normal life away from this cult for eight years and forces beyond her control might reel her back in. Laura is complex as a character because of the limits she is pushed to. On one hand, Cavanaugh writes her as an innocent victim of abuse, which makes it easy for her to garner support from audiences. However, her actions to protect her son David are gruesome. It’s a tough situation to find yourself in because while the cult is wrong, Laura’s actions aren’t better at times. Still, you know she is only acting out of finding herself in a precarious position.
SON deciding to toy around with the topic of Mother Knows best is its strongest attribute. Matichak’s performance here is powerful in many instances despite the material being lukewarm. She carries the film wonderfully and demands your attention through all of the chaos that unfolds. Cavanaugh’s script gets predictable at times, which takes away from the film because the twists that happen are nothing groundbreaking. Still, most of the narrative is coherent and the relationship between Laura and David helps the film maintain its momentum as well. Blumm’s portrayal of the titular character is solid, and it’s troubling to watch at times given he has done nothing to welcome this torment at such a young age.
Cavanaugh seems to have drawn inspiration from Rosemary’s baby, many might see shades of The Omen. Cavanaugh shows off his abilities behind the camera by presenting fast-paced moments of dread, but certain pacing decisions make this narrative grow frustrating. He understands how to direct a horror film, as he has proven in the past and it’s reinforced here in SON. The tension is present and unfortunately, it does die down once the narrative loses its steam. Piers McGrail’s cinematography enhances the gruesome narrative being told and allows certain sequences to grow more intimidating. The technical aspects of SON make for a visually appealing film at times, and this aspect of it can’t go unnoticed.
SON is a decent cult-centered horror film that relies on its strong lead performance and technical strengths. Cavanaugh has crafted an engaging piece that stumbles along the way but proves he has a place in the horror genre. The most important lesson learned here was that Matichak is ready to thrive in this genre for many roles to come. Fans of Rosemary’s baby should have fun with this outing as well.
RLJE Films will release the horror SON in Theaters and on Digital and On Demand on March 5, 2021