A mother's love is like no other, but few mothers would do what Laura did for her child in Ivan Kavanaugh's psychological horror film Son. Filled with gruesome murders and nightmare-inducing images, Son manages to be terrifying while packing a heavy emotional punch. This film rides a fine line between gruesome and realism. Childhood is a shocking story, but it also serves as a dramatic part of the making of a film that asks how far a mother's love must go.
Seven years later, Laura and David have a happy suburban life, until the cult returns and awakens something in David that makes him crave a type of meat that is not allowed to be consumed by humans. If David didn't receive his daily bloody nutrition, he would become seriously ill. Laura takes David on a journey to find a cure for her son's condition, but she must also find food for him along the way.
Son is reminiscent of slow-burn horror from the '70s, especially in its tempo and premise. Many modern horror films feel like formulas, desperate to stand out as scary films but instead feel like unpolished ideas. Son maintains his troubling course material by treating it as a legitimate story. This film is twisty, complicated and has a lot to say -- something that is not found in quite a number of modern horror films. The pace is good, slowly setting the story but never feeling too slow. The attention paid to subject matter and characters really helps this film to be believable in a way it couldn't have focused too much on jumpscare or gore.
Matichak previously tried to cringe at Halloween 2018 as Laurie Strode's granddaughter, but it was with Son that she mastered the genre. As Laura, Matichak brilliantly portrays a character who is at the pinnacle of heroes and villains. Most of Laura's actions are reprehensible, but because of Matichak's nuanced performance and the complexity of the script, audiences understand why Laura has to live the way she does. Matichak's chemistry with Luke David Blumm is so believable that certain viewers will likely shed tears watching them on screen together. The mother and daughter duo find themselves in a dire situation that is made so much more effective because of how believable the two main leads are together.
Although the film puts a lot of emphasis on storytelling, audiences will still be traumatized by watching a child eat someone he knows and a terrifying devotee appear in a nightmarish sequence. Son impressively manages to work as well as a dark drama as well as an occult shock. The story of the film is not very original, but the way the material is handled. The execution really makes this film noteworthy, complemented by trippy lighting and incredibly immersive imagery. The ending of the film also offers a monster that some viewers may find embedded in their brains for years to come.
Son is the kind of supernatural horror that needs to be made more often in Hollywood -- a dramatic horror film with a well-thought-out story and purpose. This film can be very disturbing at times, but also entertaining. The film moves in an extraordinary way, going from a cult-involved slow-burning tale to a bloodied street film. The combination of heart and terror gives Son the true potential of becoming a modern horror classic and this film features Kavanaugh as an up-and-coming filmmaker.
The film will premiere exclusively on Shudder on July 8.