A review of “Godsend” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: *

Rating: PG-13 for language, scares, and a childbirth scene

Run Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes



Hail the psychological thriller, a genre whose good name has fallen by the wayside thanks to such cheesy offerings as Twisted and The Butterfly Effect. Godsend plays in the same league, a bargain basement thriller lacking both thrills and chills.

You know there’s trouble when the leads are doting on a creepy only child.  In this case the object of Paul (Greg Kinnear) and Jessie Duncan’s (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) affection is Adam (Cameron Bright), an uber-jaunty, blue-eyed lad who gives fresh meaning to the concept of goody-two-shoes.

Adam is killed in a fluke car wreck and the couple is wracked with grief.  Robert De Niro to the rescue in the form of Dr. Richard Wells, a brilliant fertility doctor who specializes in creating genetically identical fetuses, i.e. cloning.  A second little Adam is an offer the couple can’t refuse, so on with the shady procedure and a relocation to a swanky manse in a small New England “Stepford” town.  All is right with the world of the Duncans.

Or is it?  Once Adam passes the age of his predecessor’s death (eight years old), things go south.  Crossing the line into uncharted genetic territory, new Adam suffers horrible night terrors about an Adam look-alike who is going to kill or has already killed his parents. Could the original cells have retained a memory of their first life?

The clichés just keep on coming.  Shower curtains, foggy forests, and abandoned toolsheds.  Dangling hardware (a la Babe), voices from beyond and dark secrets that Explain It All.  Godsend is so laughably rotten that it would flourish as a spoof, rife with the elements we love to fear. 

De Niro is horribly miscast as the Machiavellian doc, and Romijn-Stamos and Kinnear play it too straight to take seriously.  Creepy kid Bright doesn’t generate enough Damien-like tension to put him in company of the classic bad seeds.

The moral and ethical implications of cloning – typically a cultural hot button -- are dispatched to the cutting room floor. Production values are slick, for what it’s worth.