Projections - Movie Reviews

Godsend

Starring Greg Kinnear, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Robert De Niro,
Cameron Bright, Merwin Mondesir, Sava Drayton

Godsend isn’t one for moviegoers looking for real chills before they flock to the more tempting summer offerings in multiplexes in May.

Having Robert DeNiro, Greg Kinnear, and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos headlining a thriller would seem to be tantalizing. But Hollywood hasn’t been successful when it comes to cloning and here an increasingly incredible storyline and cheap scares end up being a lame variation on The Sixth Sense and The Omen.

While the science of cloning through genetics has been seen on screen in films like The 6 th Day, the sense of a millennial Frankenstein feels as archaic as the time when Mary Shelley’s novel was first adapted to the big screen.

How to replace the sudden loss of an eight year old must be faced by Paul and Jessie Duncan (Kinnear and Romijn-Stamos) when son Adam (Cameron Bright) comes outside a store after getting a new pair of sneakers. The sense of grief is palpable at the outset and one has a certain empathy for them as they attempt to cope with this tragic accident.

DeNiro is the intense, very accommodating Dr. Richard Wells, once a teacher of Jessie. He enters the picture before Adam’s burial with the idea of taking one of the boy’s cells to make a fetus with the same DNA. The despondent Duncan’s finally agree to the offer of the “fertility specialist” with the once sterile Jessie giving birth to a baby boy nine months later. This illicit medical procedure has the family conveniently moving to a mansion in a quaint New England town.

The new Adam is growing up reasonably well until he exceeds the eight years lived by his former likeness. Then nightmares and homicidal impulses start to direct him in a way that has disastrous consequences for the household. The screenplay by Mark Bomback would suggest that the injected cells contain the worst memories of an existence, but the psycho slasher genre takes over without any intelligence of psychological depth.

If the writing lacks coherence, director Nick Hamm isn’t able to provide the same tension on screen as he’s proven on stage in Britain. He uses a series of red herrings that are supposed to provide jolts of horror, but scenes in a tool-shed or forest enshrouded in fog never amount to a taut circle of fear. The creepy otherworldly flourishes hurt Bright’s performance and DeNiro does Dr. Wells (“What we’ve done!”) knowing how insipid it turns out to be. Exploring the ethics of a creator and what should have been agonizing Jessie could have made Godsend more than a clone of a listless, automated horror show.

 
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Godsend
 
 
 
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