Movie Review: Son

March 5, 2021

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Irish/U.SA./U.K./Singapore coproduction Son is a dread-filled supernatural horror film that goes to some surprisingly dark places. It is an early entry for my top 10 favorite horror films of the year.
Irish writer/director Ivan Kavanagh’s Son opens with a young woman named Laura (Andi Matichak of the 2018 version of Halloween) being chased down by some men who she manages to escape. She then gives birth — to a baby she proclaims that she doesn’t want — in her escape vehicle. 

The story then jumps ahead eight years. Laura is now a schoolteacher and the loving mother of her son David (Luke David Blumm). She suffers from PTSD because of her earlier escape from a cult (not a spoiler; this is revealed early on) but has seemingly built a rather happy life for herself and David. That is, until she checks in on him one night and finds her sleeping son surrounded by a group of people. After she goes running through her neighborhood street crying for help, she finds David apparently fine, and the police, including detective Paul Tate (Emile Hirsh of The Autopsy of Jane Doe [2016] and Freaks [2018]), find no trace of a break-in, not even a single unusual fingerprint.
With the police skeptical of Laura’s story save for Tate, matters escalate greatly when David comes down with a mysterious illness that leaves him convulsing and with sores all over his body. Only one thing can temporarily cure his affliction, and when Laura horrifyingly discovers what that is — in a disturbingly rendered, gruesome set piece — she finds herself challenged as to how far she will go to protect her son.

Kavanagh (Canal, 2014) lets viewers know early in Son that the events Laura claims to see when she and David are alone are really happening, though most characters chalk her accounts up to PTSD from her cult days. Through flashback, Kavanagh shows what happened to her back then, and it is grim stuff, indeed.
Kavanagh’s screenplay follows some familiar beats, but his direction and the atmosphere he builds in Son more than make up for that. The pacing is near-perfect, from the film’s gripping opening to its incredibly creepy final scene. Piers McGrail’s splendid cinematography and Aza Hand’s chilling score and sound design all help to create an amazingly eerie vibe.

Matichak is outstanding as the troubled Laura, and Blumm does a terrific job portraying an imaginative child who goes through a painful affliction, and especially in the more chilling scenes in which he is involved. The supporting cast members all turn in fine performances, as well.
Fans of occult horror would do well to give Son a watch. It holds a lot of emotional tension to go along with its suspenseful fear-fare jolts and shocks.
Son, from RLJE Films and Shudder, will be available in theaters, On Demand and Digital from March 5. It will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from May 18. Son will also be available to stream exclusively on the Shudder platform starting on July 8, 2021. As a Shudder exclusive, the platform will be the only subscription service that will carry the film in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

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