Even years after escaping, former cult members can often feel a lingering trauma that never really leaves them. Shudder’s latest original horror/drama Son, explores this idea, along with the moral imperative of how far a person might go to protect their child. All with a sinister twist of course!
Opening with its protagonist Laura (Andi Matichak), we see a woman very dirty and distraught in a diner. She appears to be very pregnant, and goes into a car, where she cries, “No, I don’t want you!” as she gives birth to a baby boy.
Several years later, Laura and her son David (Luke David Blumm) seem to be well adjusted with a strong routine. Laura works as an elementary school teacher, while attending night classes herself in what appears to be some sort of psychology/counseling program. Their neighbor watches David and all seems to be well.
One night, a group of people break in and surround David in his bedroom. Laura calls the police and what follows is a series of David frequently getting sick in a way that doctors can’t explain, and the detectives doubting Laura’s sanity. Every time there’s a break in at her house, the police never find any evidence of forced entry or fingerprints of intruders.
The only detective who believes her, Paul (Emile Hirsch), also has his own judgment clouded as he seems to be falling for Laura. All goes to hell (figuratively and potentially literally), as Laura goes on the run with David, leaving crime scenes behind. The characters, nor the audience are ever really sure if the cause is supernatural in nature, or just plain insanity.
Real vs. Unreal
Part of what makes Son so compelling, like many other horror mysteries, is that the audience isn’t sure whether to trust the protagonist or not. This is not to suggest that Laura is two faced the entire time, rather she’s not even sure herself. We get snippets of her tragic backstory involving an abusive father and a cult who did unspeakable things to her when she was young.
The movie itself really rests on the shoulders of Andi Matichak’s performance, and she doesn’t disappoint. There’s a simulatenous strength and vulnerability that’s not easy to pull off, but she does. We get the conflict in her that she just wants to protect her son, and is willing to do anything to do so. Honestly, who wouldn’t?
But as Laura goes further down her rabbit hole into her past, the more gruesome and graphic things get, particularly with some insanely bloody kills. Her past is intriguing, and it’s equally tragic and fascinating to watch everything come back to her, which she had previously blocked out.
For those who don’t’ like ambiguity, the ending is quite clear and straightforward, although its “twist (which we won’t spoil) may not satisfy everyone. But for those who enjoy a good slow-burn, character-driven horror movie, with a dash of the occult thrown in there, Son makes for a great watch!
What did you think of Son? Where would you like to see this franchise go? Let us know in the comments!
Son is streaming exclusively on Shudder