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Godsend (2004)

When a miracle becomes a nightmare, evil is born.

Directed by:

Nick Hamm

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 102 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 15

Country: Canada, United States

‘The Omen’, ‘The Exorcist’, The Shining, Macauley Culkin – they’ve all taught us one thing: kids can be bloody creepy.

‘Godsend’, from Brit director Nick Hamm, is the latest in a long, long line of Hollywood outings to tap into this realisation. It’s about a heartbroken couple (Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) who turn to science for help when their only son, Adam (Cameron Bright), is killed in a road accident shortly after his eighth birthday. They go to the mysterious “Godsend Institute”, where a slightly cloak-and-dagger doctor (Robert De Niro) uses Adam’s DNA to create an exact clone of the little blighter.

Of course, it’s not REAL science. It’s movie science. So get ready to suspend your disbelief a little for this next bit. You see, once the new Adam passes the date of his original death, he suddenly starts to remember fragments of a previous life in the form of “night terrors”. What’s worse is that while the original Adam was in every way your perfect goody-goody offspring, this new one starts behaving like a right little bam. Before you can say “clip round the ear”, the family’s once-idyllic life turns sourer than two-month-old milk.

Of course, it’s all hokum, and the more the story progresses the more it spirals out of the reach of credibility. It also falls into the disappointing trap of giving away its own twist by making the clues too obvious. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it. Hamm does a good job of building up some genuine tension, and horror fans should be more than satisfied with the high volume of jumpy bits.

There’s some good work from the cast too: Kinnear is a fantastically under-rated actor and he manages to make his character believable even in such unbelievable circumstances; Romijn-Stamos proves she’s more than a pretty face with a credible performance as mommy-dearest; De Niro’s under-used but at least this is him getting back to what he’s good at (the comedy stuff just doesn’t work). Finally there’s young Master Bright, who doesn’t really have to do much except flash an occasional sinister smile and generally look the part – which he pulls off without any problem at all. He’s no Culkin though.

It's Got: An innovative spoof website passing itself off as the site of the Godsend Institute – check out godsendinstitute.org.

It Needs: To do a better job of keeping its ending a secret.

Alternatives:

The Exorcist, The Omen, The Shining, The Sixth Sense

Summary

One of the creepiest movies of the year, even if it’s not one of the most plausible.

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