Ivan Kavanagh’s ‘Son’ (2021): A Mother’s Love Can Be Deadly Movie Review

When I heard that Ivan Kavanagh (read our interview with the director here), the filmmaker behind Tin Can Man (2007 – read our review here), The Canal (2014 – read our review here), and Never Grow Old (2019 – read our review here) had a new project coming out called Son, I was immediately intrigued.

Synopsis:

When a young boy contracts a mysterious illness, his mother must decide how far she will go to protect him from terrifying forces in her past.

This was quite the change from the historical aspects of The Canal, about a snuff film from the early 1900s, and Never Grow Old, about an Early American immigrant undertaker being forced to commit nefarious deeds for a local outlaw. Does Son hold a candle to his other films?

Son was written and directed by Ivan Kavanagh. The film stars The Autopsy Of Jane Doe’s Emile Hirsch (read our interview with him here), Andi Matichak (Halloween 2018 – read our review here), Luke David Blumm (The Sinner TV series), and Cranston Johnson (Hap and Leonard TV series). The score was composed by Aza Hand (Game Of Thrones TV series), while Leo Corey Castellano (Into The Dark TV series) created the painful-looking special FX. Rene Bastion (Funny Games 2007), AnneMarie Naughton (The Canal 2014), and Louis Tisné (This Must Be The Place 2011) produced the film.

What Works

My favorite aspect of Kavanagh’s Son is the chemistry and closeness between Laura (Miatichak) and her son, David (Blumm). In a lot of genre films, we’re fully suspending our disbelief over the parent/child relationship. The story tends to focus on either the adults or the kids, and the other is just a set piece or sounding board. In Son, the entire movie revolves around how much a mother loves her child. You can see Laura’s fervent devotion to her boy every time she tucks his hair behind his ears or carries his limp body to the car for the umpteenth time.

While, at the same time, David is just a regular kid. He asks goofy questions like, “If you had 8 arms, would you hide them under your shirt or let everyone see them?”  and talks about apples being the candy of the forest like any other 8-year-old, one you find yourself caring for as the film goes on. He’s not Damian… he’s just a regular kid. Which poses the question: if Laura is the only person who sees what her son is becoming, is it possible that it’s all happening in her head?

Luke David Blumm, Son
Luke David Blumm in Son

Special FX artist Leo Corey Castellano does a fantastic job with the special FX. Each bruise and hemorrhage that mottles the boy’s body look like true injuries. Bodies drop, and the gore is plentiful. I also love all of the eerie shots of the Kansas wasteland, from the wind blowing siding across Mrs. Naegle’s (Kristine Nielson) front yard to the torn American flags at Jimmy’s (Blaine Maye) front door to the mold-encrusted fronts of rundown motels. There’s also this gorgeous scene of Laura sitting in a bed in her childhood home in between two curtains that show just a peek of sunlight through them. Absolutely stunning.

I’ve got to say, it is quite refreshing to see Emile Hirsch play a rather downplayed police detective who’s determined to believe Laura, no matter how crazy she sounds. He’s not a hero, he’s not a tortured soul, and he’s not a killer. He’s just a regular guy who doesn’t always seems to know what he’s doing.

What Doesn’t Work

Son is a great film, but it’s slightly predictable. Maybe I’ve just seen too many horror movies, but I knew where this film was going from the synopsis alone. Not to say that it isn’t a fun ride to take. It’s all about the trip, not the destination.

Emile Hirsch, Andi Matichak, Son
Emile Hirsch and Andi Matichak in Son

Final Thoughts

Son is a tense thrill ride that explodes with a mother’s love for her son. Whether what she sees is real or not, Laura will do whatever it takes to protect her child from any impending danger. There’s plenty of blood and special FX to gross out most horror fans, and the chemistry between Andi Matichak and Luke David Blumm is tangible. Be sure to check this one out when it releases on March 5, 2021.

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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