October 29, 2018 at 11:00 AM EDT

How scary is The Prodigy, the new horror movie from director Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact), which hits theaters Feb. 8, 2019?

“I’ll say this,” says the filmmaker with a laugh. “The first time we previewed the movie, there is a section where people screamed so loud that we had to go back and re-edit the scene that followed it, because people were still recovering from what they had just seen, and they were missing the dialogue.”

The Prodigy stars Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black) as a woman named Sarah, whose young son Miles (Jackson Robert Scott) exhibits disturbing behavior that signals an evil, possibly supernatural force has overtaken him. The film is written by Jeff Buhler, whose credits include 2008’s Bradley Cooper-starring The Midnight Meat Train and the upcoming remake of Pet Sematary.

“Four years ago, I was sent a script for this movie,” says McCarthy. “For the first half, I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is a really interesting, and creepy, and twisted variation on the evil kid subgenre.’ But then the script just went to this place that I couldn’t believe. That’s what made me go from, ‘Here’s a movie I think might be cool’ to, ‘Here’s a movie that’s gotta be made.'”

See the teaser trailer for The Prodigy above and exclusive first look images from the film, below.


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