By Shawn McKenzie 05/04/2004
Sometimes a great premise for a movie just can’t be carried out over a feature length movie. Godsend has one of those premises.
Paul (Greg Kinnear) and Jessie Duncan (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) are a happy couple with a great 8-year-old son named Adam (Cameron Bright.) Paul is a high school biology teacher in a low-income neighborhood who is moving on to a better school system and Jessie is a photographer who’s favorite subject is Adam. One day, while shopping for new shoes for Adam, the boy is killed when a car swerves to avoid a biker and accidentally hits him. They are understandably grief-stricken, and genetic scientist Richard Wells (Robert De Niro) of the Godsend Institute, a former professor of Jessie’s in college, meets them at the funeral and offers them a way to get their son back. He wants to harvest the DNA from their dead son to create a perfect clone of him…but they only have 72 hours to do so before the cells are no longer viable. Paul doesn’t want to do it, because he doesn’t feel like any clone would be the exact match, but Jessie is so depressed that he gives in. They move to a house in the town of Rivers, which is hundreds of miles away and near the Godsend Institute. They also sever all ties with anyone who knew Adam. Jessie goes through with the procedure, and the first similarity that they notice is that the deliveries were exactly the same. Eight years go by, and Adam has reached the same age he was when he was killed. He grew up normally, but when he passes that original age (he originally died the day after his eighth birthday), he starts seeing weird things, like a creepy boy (Devon Bostick) who seems to have homicidal tendencies. Richard, whom Adam knows as “Uncle Richard,” chalks it up to a common childhood condition known as night terrors. When the visions seem to start happening during the day as well, while he is awake even, Paul becomes concerned that Adam might be remembering the first Adam. His proof is that he is displaying the same attributes, like a love for stegosauruses. Adam claims that the boy’s name in his visions is someone named Zachary Clark though, and he is a killer. When a school bully named Roy Hazen (Jordan Scherer) ends up in a ditch, Paul does some research and discovers a horrible secret that makes him wish that they had never messed around with Mother Nature.
I was genuinely surprised by the movie’s “twist,” but after it was revealed, it had too much crap after it. The movie is only slightly over an hour and forty minutes, yet there is only about an hour of decent stuff. I really think that this would have made a good episode of “The Twilight Zone,” but since this was a movie, everything after the twist (which arrives around the one hour mark) felt like horror movie schlock…and not even good (or scary) horror movie schlock.
It wasn’t because of the performances though. DeNiro was a little restrained, but okay. Same for Kinnear, who did the best that he could with the material. Romijn-Stamos is an underrated actress, kind of in the same vein as Charlize Theron (both former models turned credible actresses), but despite some decent scenes, she is just a pretty face here (there is even a gratuitous almost-sex scene in the middle of the movie before Adam interrupts them with another freak-out.)
I could list the many plot-holes that Godsend has (like why it mattered that Adam was eight before he went psycho, if you knew the twist), but I’ll just say that it is bad. I’m not just saying this either because I am sick of seeing “psycho kid” horror movies (has there ever been a horror movie with a normal kid in it as the main character?) It might not be nice to fool with Mother Nature, but it’s really bad to pay full price to see this flick.
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