Escaping a cult as a teenager, Laura (Andi MatichakHalloween franchise) now lives happily with her son David (Luke David BlummThe King of Staten Island) in a small town. When she sees a mysterious group of people in David’s room one night, they ask police and neighbours to keep an eye out. Not much later, David becomes very ill, suffering from psychosis and convulsions. Now caught in a web of deceit, unsolvable medical mysteries and creeping paranoia, Laura will do anything to keep her son safe, seeking the truth that takes her back to confront the things she left behind a long time ago.

This Shudder Exclusive, directed by Ivan Kavanagh, goes full horror in its first half hour, sending chills all down your spine and skilfully knows how to make you jump without relying too much on cheap jump scares, but instead uses some grisly practical effects and scary imagery. The tone is set with creepy atmosphere and grim cinematography, while the sound design is painfully inconsistent. But it’s Matichak who draws your attention with a natural performance. Young actor Luke David Blumm acts out some pretty horrific scenes, and does so convincingly.

Kavanagh also wrote the screenplay of his film, and that’s where Son lacks a bit of focus. We go from spooky, to full on gore, to cultish rituals and unclear mental health conditions. It does make his film more interesting and gives the viewers perhaps more than they’ve asked for. The more than capable cast and atmosphere do a lot of the heavy lifting, and for a horror film in my opinion, atmosphere is everything.

Comparisons can easily be made to classic horror films, but luckily Son has a lot of scary themes and surprising twists that make it worth checking out. A diabolical ride into the bloody depths of psychosis, that’ll keep you guessing until the very end.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Now available of Shudder

Reviewed online (screener provided by Shudder), July 3, 2021. Rating: R. Running time: 98 min.

PRODUCTION: (USA) A Shudder release of a Belladonna Productions, Elastic Film & Park Films production. Producers: René Bastian, AnneMarie Naughton & Louis Tisné. Executive producers: James Atherton, Will Clarke, Abhay Deal, Ana Habajec, Emile Hirsch, Ali Jazayeri, Andy Mayson, Lesley McKimm, Jan Pace, Mike Runagall, J.B. Shah, Miten Shah, Abeer Thapar, Amar Thapar, Arun Thapar, Christian Tötzke & Viviana Zarragoitia.

CREW: Director/writer: Ivan Kavanagh. Cinematography: Piers McGrail. Editing: Robin Hill. Music: Aza Hand.

CAST: Andi Matichak, Emile Hirsch, Luke David Blumm, Cranston Johnson, Blaine Maye, J. Robert Spencer, Rocco Sisto, Kristine Nielsen, Erin Bradley Dangar & Adam Stephenson.

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