Son of Cain

This Spanish genre item (2013) recalls such postwar Hollywood thrillers as Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Otto Preminger’s Whirlpool, grounding its pulpy story in serious discussions of psychoanalysis. A noted child psychiatrist is engaged by a wealthy couple to treat their 14-year-old son, an intellectual prodigy who’s begun exhibiting psychopathic tendencies. Director Jesus Monallaó fares better with the psychological material; the analytic sessions, in which the doctor tries to determine whether the kid is a typical adolescent acting out or a genuine monster in the making, are nicely paced, and the two leads play well off each other. Yet Monallaó lacks the panache to pull off the suspense set pieces, which end up seeming both implausible and insufficiently flamboyant. In Spanish with subtitles.