he makers of "Godsend" should be
arrested for false advertising, as this film is anything but godly. A dreary
and dull piece of work, its only saving grace is the performance of Robert
DeNiro; otherwise, it's a supernatural misfire that squanders an excellent
cast and an intriguing idea.
Kinnear) and Jessie Duncan (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) are a happy young
couple whose son is tragically ripped from their lives in an automobile
accident. They are approached by Dr. Wells (Robert DeNiro), a geneticist
who offers to give them back their son via a highly illegal cloning
experiment. All seems to go well until the boy's 8th birthday, the year he
was killed. He starts having frightening episodes of night terrors and
visions of a mysterious boy named "Zachary". Are these
apparitions inherited memories from his past existence, a ghost from
beyond, or a physical manifestation of the evil that may be possessing the
child? These questions are ultimately rhetorical, because it's doubtful
anyone watching the film will care.
As the only decent part of this disaster, Robert DeNiro ("Meet
the Parents") is good as Dr. Richard Wells. When we first see
him, he's grandfatherly and sympathetic -- the man you'd want by your side
during the loss of a dearly loved one. But it isn't long before his true
colors start to show. Wells exhibits attention towards Jessie that isn't
entirely medical, and appears to be trying to drive a wedge between the
married couple. His motives, although they appear noble on the surface,
are anything but -- he also has no problems using an emotionally
vulnerable couple to give him a genetic guinea pig.
Unfortunately DeNiro is only in a supporting role,
and despite being excellent he can't carry the film himself. The
performances of Greg Kinnear ("We
Were Soldiers") and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos ("Femme
Fatale") as the bereaved couple are unconvincing and forced, as
well as frequently bordering on the ridiculous. But compared to the
performance of Cameron Bright, they're brilliant. As the clone son, Bright
seems to have prepared for the role by repeatedly watching every film in
the "Omen" series. He never looks frightening, and instead just
comes across as emotionally blank and boring.
Then again, the cast isn't totally responsible for the wholesale collapse
of the picture. Director Nick Hamm ("The Hole") gives the film a
washed out and unattractive look, and allows the pace to become lethargic.
He never seems worried that his performers are mostly under performing,
and seems happy that they showed up at all and bothered to remember their
lines. But even if Hamm could fixed these problems, it's doubtful he could
have improve anything, since you get the impression he really doesn't have
a clear idea of what he's doing.
Writer Mark Bromack's script is a tired retread of
the "evil child" idea and is never really scary or manages to
deliver any jolts. He glosses over ethical issues of creating artificial
life in favor of misguided horror efforts that goes nowhere.
"Godsend" is not a good film; in fact, it's
a disaster on the proportion of the Titanic, with a good cast and an
intriguing idea wasted on an inferior product. The only silver lining is
the performance of Robert DeNiro, who proves he can transcend even the
worst material. In the end, this film is 102 minutes of your life you'll
never get back.