Retro Review: Godsend

Damien lives!

In the late 1970s, moviegoers were literally scared out of their wits when American Ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) learns his son is in fact “the antichrist” in 1976’s “The Omen”.

Ever since that film and its misunderstood and under-appreciated sequel in 1978, Hollywood has become fascinated with “evil child” syndrome.

Why is the human condition so fascinated with a blending of evil and pure innocence?

Almost 30 years after the release of “The Omen”, a new film tries once more to pull back the covers and take another crack at the “evil child”.

This time parents (Greg Kinnear, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) lose their only son, Adam (Cameron Bright) in a horrific accident and are approached by a brilliant doctor (Robert DeNiro) who offers them the chance of a lifetime.

The couple must say good-bye to the world they know and move to a secluded hospital where the doctor promises that they can have their boy back. And that is where the film is supposed to get interesting, thought-provoking and thrilling, right?

Instead the film decides to give us all the answers up front. So I guess I can get into the main plot point here as well. The doctor clones the couple’s boy and they raise him all over again.

The film’s catch happens when the clone reaches the same point when the original boy died. The boy begins to shows signs of insanity, gruesome night terrors and eventually his parents begin to freak out. There is a twist I won’t give away but for the most part the film continues its predictable linear course.

I have to admit I did really like Kinnear as the panicking father who loves his son deeply and seems to be the only character in the film who is looking beyond the miracles of just one secluded doctor. In some scenes Kinnear even reminded me some of Peck in “The Omen” and Willam Holden in the sequel.

I didn’t feel anything for Stamos who is sobby, ruffled and never fully unveiled. Her character seems to be the least fleshed out character in the story which is strange since you think the mother would be going through hell to help her boy.

Stamos plays the mother as this desperate, constantly crying, sheet-over-head woman who is always screaming she wants her child back. I wanted to see a bond between mother and son but one never materialized. Stamos is just way out of her league playing this kind of emotional part. You needed an actress who you can see vast sums of emotion with just one look. Maybe like a Julianne Moore for example. They also needed an actress who had chemistry with Kinnear and the boy.

There isn’t a lot of DeNiro in this film which is the reason it reminded me so much of the Omen. The film’s primary focus is the parents. In some ways a lot of the way the film is presented is a film looking to debate “cloning” until the twist ending. It should have dropped the linear approach to filmmaking and opened with the audience knowing little. It should have used the “evil child” card to its best ability not as a gimic.

The final thing that made me dislike the film is that after the twist ending the filmmakers played the “six months later” card. Films only play this card when they believe they don’t know how to end a film. It’s basically a slap in the face to every moviegoer. I have always felt ripped off with those endings.

Godsend could have been a new “Omen” if it would have gone for the thrills and held its secrets closer to the end.

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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