First off, when all you’ve read about how audiences have reacted to a film is that the trailer had to be re-edited because it was TOO scary, alarm bells ring. Is this false hype by the marketing department?
This film starts off with a nice shot and a bit of a jump, reminding us of George A. Romero’s output, but that could merely be the Pennsylvanian rural location work. That is part of the problem; it feels overly familiar in a ‘been there, seen that’ kind of way. There is a genre of creepy kids films and there have been some classics, starting off with 'The Bad Seed' (1956), then you have the wonderful 'Village' and 'Children of the Damned' (1960 and 1964, respectively). 'The Other' (1972) is possibly the creepiest and 'The Omen', which bears probably the closest resemblance to this film. The best scene in the film does hint at the director paying homage to the greatest scary kids film of all time, 'The Brood' (1979). More on that later.
Now to get to where the film turned it around. The audience was losing its patience and giggles were starting to radiate, replacing the shocks and jumps. The cheese factor nearly overtook as the generic plot set in, although the atmosphere had done some nice groundwork. The stereotypical ideas and slightly dated, unflashy style actually started to pay off as the twists and turns began to grab the viewers and strap them down in their seats. Then the jump scares, which are often misused in modern horror cinema, had them out of those seats and made them wish they could look away. In fact there were some violent reactions, not what you expect from a scare film in 2019. Everything has been done and even if 'The Prodigy' only throws a few new spins into the pot, it does something which is uncommon: it earns the scares.
From the nicely-done transition of a fully grown man being shot and the baby being born at the exact same moment, both figures covered in similar blood patterns, to the aforementioned scene near the end that had all concerned grabbing on for dear life and moments later flying up as if on a rollercoaster, effective is the relevant word. If you can have a character walk around a house in deathly silence, entering a darkened room, and be able to hear a pin drop around you, it’s working. The tension was palpable and in the end it may not be as great as say 'Orphan', the 2009 classic, but it should win over fans of the genre.