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Godsend (2004)

Cast: Greg Kinnear, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Robert De Niro, more...
Director: Nick Hamm
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Rating:
Studio: Lions Gate
Genre: Horror
Running Time: 102 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Synopsis
Paul (Greg Kinnear) and Jessie Duncan (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) have barely begun the grieving process when Dr. Richard Wells (Robert De Niro) attends the funeral of the Duncans' eight-year-old son, Adam (Cameron Bright), with a pressing question in tow. Head of the Godsend Fertility Clinic, Dr. Wells claims he can use Adam's rapidly dying cells to clone a replica of the boy, though the necessary DNA will only be viable for another 24 hours. The process in itself is completely illegal; not only must Jessie and Paul be forced to relocate, but they will also be forced to sever all ties with friends and family in order to ensure the secret remains so. Within the space of a day, the Duncans consider the legal and ethical implications of such a procedure, ultimately deciding that their love for Adam is enough to trump the law and any high-minded philosophical questions. After resettling in an idyllic town near Dr. Wells' clinic, Jessie is impregnated with the late Adam's living cells, while Paul is given a beautiful home and a more than suitable job. Shortly afterward, the new Adam -- seemingly identical to the original Adam in every way -- is born and lives a life quite similar to his predecessor until the morning of his eighth birthday. A series of night terrors is the first thing to disturb the Duncans' otherwise serene lifestyle. Adam's violent visions eventually mutate to ill temper, and an aura of menace permeates the aura of a boy who had otherwise been sweetness incarnate from the day of his birth. Eventually, Paul discovers that Dr. Wells is not a pediatrician, but a geneticist, and that their playing God may have been a Faustian bargain of epic proportions. ~ Tracie Cooper, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

The first half builds some nice tension...the second half completely undoes it. by bloodytaco December 1, 2004 - 3:27 AM PST
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What is horror? For Paul and Jessie Duncan (Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) it is the moment their 8 year-old son Adam is killed, leaving a void that would be better left unfilled. For Robert De Niro, as the man who can give them back their son by cloning Adams original cells, its being associated with one of the worst mainstream horror films (read:"suspense thriller") in many a moon.

Godsend actually has a decent first hour. The subject of cloning a human is topical and fascinating to most of us. Certainly, given the films genre, we know it cant possibly turn out good and, indeed, things start going awry the moment the new Adam passes the age when the old Adam died. There are some genuinely creepy moments, including a bathtub scene reminiscent of Kubriks The Shining. Unfortunately, thats exactly the moment the film begins to fall apart.

It would have been smarter for writer Mark Bomback (who, curiously, is writing the new Die Hard film even though this is only his second screenplay) to stick with the general science from the first half. Instead, Bomback insults the intelligence of his audience by introducing pseudo-science that rips the films legs completely out from under it, and what was a creative and original thriller suddenly becomes the bastard child of The Omen and The Good Son. There is also a bizarre moment when Adam becomes Tony, Danny Torrances talking finger (again from The Shining: "Adam cant come out to play right now, Mrs. Duncan"), demonstrating the difference between acknowledging your influences and downright aping them.

Beyond the generic jump scenes, there is nothing here worth recommending. Despite the promise of the title and a couple of throw-away lines, the moral implications of what Paul and Jessie attempt are barely discussed (the horror/comedy classic Re-Animator had greater reservations about raising the dead than does this serious film; I kept hoping the character of Dan Cain would pop in and try to talk some sense into them.). There is no subtext, no deeper layers of meaning, and a bible set on fire is as subtle as the symbolism gets.

So what are we left with? De Niros performance as doctor/genetic researcher Richard Wells is solid, but the very fact that he's in the movie works against it. Is Wells hiding something from the Duncans? Well, when is De Niro not hiding something? You won't believe it when you see it. No, seriously, you won't believe it when you see it. That's the problem.




GreenCine Member Rating
12345678910

(Average 4.32)
28 Votes
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