Director: Ivan Kavanagh
Script: Ivan Kavanagh
Cast: Andi Matichak, Emile Hirsch, Luke David Blumm, Cranston Johnson, Blaine Maye, J. Robert Spencer, Rocco Sisto, Kristine Nielson
Running time: 98 minutes
Year: 2020
Certificate: 15

Son opens with a pregnant young woman, Laura (Andi Matichak), on the run from some cultists who want to bring her back to their Manson-like community. She manages to give them the slip and the film’s prologue ends with her giving birth in a car during a dramatic rain storm. We then cut to the same woman, eight years later, looking much happier with her now nearly eight-year old son, David (Luke David Blumm). Everything is going swimmingly until, one night, she finds her son in bed surrounded by the cultists from here past. She runs out for help and when she returns her son is now alone, but is somehow changed.

Over a relatively short period of time David starts to become unwell; his body becomes covered in blisters and sores and he’s in a state of great pain all of the time. At one point it looks like he’s near death’s door and his mother is understandably scared for him. She senses that the hospital can do no more for her child and overhears two doctors saying that they’ll deliver her son to the cult so she covertly removes him from the hospital. The only person who seems to be on her side is Paul, a young detective assigned to her home invasion case, but even he seems to be unsure of how to really help her.

As the film progresses Laura goes on the run, ever evading the cultists and, later on, the police as they follow up on a series of grisly murders that all seem to be connected to her and her son. We also learn that her father was the leader of a satanic sect who worshipped the demon Astaroth, the Great Duke of Hell, and regularly had Laura summon the demon to rape her, with the intention of bringing forth his seed into the world. However, this part of the story is presented in such a way that the audience isn’t quite sure if Laura is suffering a mental breakdown, or if what she thinks she ‘remembers’ is actually real.

Ivan Kavanagh wrote the script for Son while he was suffering from sleepless nights, due to his own baby son. Noticing the very close bound between his wife and their child he wondered how far a mother would really go to protect her child, even if said child was actually a spawn of hell, hence how Son came about.

Son works on a number of levels; firstly as a psychological horror-thriller, where the audience is never quite sure if much of the carnage is down to Laura or her son, or if it hasn’t really happened at all. And, secondly, as a straight forward occult-related horror film, where we go along for the often bloody ride as David’s illness is only kept at bay by the devouring of human flesh and the drinking of human blood.

The performances are uniformly good, helped by Kavanagh’s believable script – well, believable up to a point, anyway. Let’s face it, when one is writing about the supernatural, one’s own writing has to move off the well-trodden path of the natural world and across to a twilight world where anything, however implausible, could and might well happen.

Technically, the film is, for the most part, nicely shot, although I did have some issues with the sound levels. For example, some of the dialogue-heavy scenes between Laura and David are way too quiet and you can hardly hear what they say, and then other elements on the soundtrack come across almost too loudly, by comparison. This is often an issue with lower budget films, but this seems to have had a decent budget. The music track, by Aza Hand, works well though, and is quite industrial sounding at its core.

Overall, I enjoyed Son, but felt that more time should have been given to the cultists, with a few more flashbacks to what had happened in the past, especially during the final act. They obviously shot some of this kind of stuff, judging by the deleted scenes, but decided to take most of it out, which is a shame, in my humble opinion.

Shudder is distributing SON on Blu-ray. There were a number of special features on the disc including the following:

Interviews with cast and crew (4.45 mins) – This is more of a PR fluff piece, like EPK material. It’s still of interest though. Apparently Emile thought the director was this ‘chipper Irish guy’ until he read the disturbing script, which freaked him out!

Deleted scenes (6.14 mins) – Seven deleted scenes, which mostly consist of stuff relating to Laura’s time in the cult. A couple of the scenes that show Jimmy rescuing Laura help explain her visit to him later in the film so I’m surprised they dropped all of these.

SON
Justin Richards reviews Ivan Kavanagh's occult-themed film: 'Son'.
3.5Overall Score
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About The Author

After a lengthy stint as a print journalist, Justin now works as a TV and film producer for Bazooka Bunny. He's always been interested in genre films and TV and has continued to work in that area in his new day-job. His written work has appeared in the darker recesses of the internet and in various niche publications, including ITNOW, The Darkside, Is it Uncut?, Impact and Deranged. When he’s not running around on set, or sat hunched over a sticky, crumb-laden keyboard, he’s paying good money to have people in pyjamas try and kick him repeatedly in the face.

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