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Closer to God is a modern revamp of Frankenstein, and it somewhat
straddles the genres of science-fiction and horror, or at least tries
to. While there's a large attempt of things that seem scientific, I
really feel like that area was so underdeveloped that I just didn't
find that at all convincing, even for suspending disbelief for the
purposes of a film. It's what comes of a film trying to make some
pretty broad claims about science without really exploring or
addressing them. The horror film aspect of it has its moments, and
while I think it did a very good job of building up tension, it really
seemed to fall apart when it came time to cash in on that by being a
bit blunt about it, after doing a fairly good job of building up the
unease and mystery.
There certainly are some other interesting questions that are at least mentioned about what represents humanity and how cloning factors in, and it acknowledges a lot of issues with the ethics, philosophy, and spirituality of cloning, but it doesn't really explore or discuss those issues much. It opens the door to them, and I do give it some credit for not pushing a particular answer to those questions, but I feel like more could have been fleshed out with them.
An overall slow pacing, I think it could've been made up for with stronger points, both conceptually and thematically, instead it fizzles out a bit at the end.
First off let me say that this is not "Splice" or "Splice-like" for any
sci-fi, horror fans expecting that kind of movie experience. This film
is a more down-to-earth, loose representation of what an event like "a
cloned child done secretly then leaked out" would be like, how it would
be received by society. "Closer To God" is more of a dark drama with
The film is directed by Billy Senese who tells a very emotional, long-drawn out, story with a real heartfelt approach to the human experience surrounding such an event as "Closer To God" explores. Cloning a successful human, then expanding the science of possibilities while protecting the material and the child. Compound that with the social repercussions, religiosity and naturalistic outrage, and you have Senese's film's theme.
The cinematography and setting is dark and somber, offering a more emotionally disconnected approach to this dark character study with only slight moments of personality that leak in from the Scientist and host mother's point of view. The rest of the time we are "chaos rubber-neckers" watching from a distance as this train-wreck of scientific achievements unfolds. That doesn't mean that the film or story is without personality or emotion. "Closer To God" reeks of melodrama and emotion, the story is strong and the acting is so well done that a tense, connection develops between the audience that story develops.
The horror aspect is minor and you have to hold on for the duration of this slow-burn, melodrama to get to that horror portion. It may not be worth it to die hard horror fans, or people going into the film wanting high energy thrills and chills. "Closer To God" keeps with a somber, macabre, almost haunting atmosphere, like watching a wake or or funeral, but only if the Westboro Church was outside, or the dead person was a mass-murder and also one of your closest relatives. That is the human connection I got once I became invested in these characters and this dark, sci-fi story. The effects are spot on but there isn't a lot of attention or sensationalism offered to those moments.
Overall I have to say that, as a dark drama, "Closer To God" is an intense, emotional story that is captivating. As a horror film or a "Frankenstein" styled film, I never really got that aspect. I say some aspect at the end, but it was so underdeveloped or poorly highlighted, that it doesn't really count. I think for people that have a pace of film that they like similar to "Stoker" or "Birth" , then "Closer To God" will be your speed. For more action, suspense, horror film fans-skip it because your just gonna get bored. I personally enjoyed the story and subject matter, I love any film that explores cloning! I say we go there and get it done-let the nightmarish consequences unfold!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The indie feeling, the old-school acting, the moral conflict - really
gives the movie some depth. Unfortunately, the movie hardly fits the
description. When I read it, I expected anything, but this. Cheap
slasher, perhaps, or something demonic or some mutation.
The idea of cloning is well-established, but it's so diluted by everything going on that it sort of disappears by the time the movie climaxes.
Here you have a baby, a science marvel, extremely valuable. But... there you allow second-hand people next to her. There you start getting attached or treating her like a baby. At first, the focus was on her, and that's what the movie was about. From her weird eyes to that needle to whatever else.
Then the story of the caretakers, moving the baby to the house... classic cliché of such movies: when a scientist does something on his own - it ends badly.
But this secret... The way it was presented at first, it was disturbing. It was suggesting. Hinting at possibilities. But of all the possibilities, I assumed it would be genetic, it would be relevant to the subject.
But no... Of all the possibilities, of all the indie flair, even stained with his irritating family, the movie just had to end as a monster slasher. And not just monster slasher, but incredibly stupid at that.
A brilliant doctor, who gives enough pity to keep his "secret" alive, but doesn't ever once check up on it? Caretakers, who, against all sense, just don't quit or press the matter? And... with tons of security at the gates - the only resolution ever is to go alone armed with a freaking syringe? The movie starts by actually thrilling you. You feel like it's something unique, it has potential. To discuss the idea of cloning, the reactions, the consequences, even unreal ones.
But the bottom line is that cloning is only a background, moral is about as much as religion in The Mist, and the center plot is a monster slasher hidden as a "payback for past sins" of the doctor.
It's not a bad movie, it can deliver unease and more... thoughtfulness than modern "indie horrors", but unfortunately it just doesn't end well. Perhaps the movie deserves more, but if there's one thing I, personally, can't stand - is when all the buildup is ruined in the end. Few movies can accomplish that, and this is one of them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
expectations of "ah ha, the first human clone" which should bring some
earth-shattering, new expose on the science of cloning - achieving what
no other scientists have been able to do. Of course, we have to throw
in the usual moral issues associated with cloning a human but here, in
this movie, things were treated rather differently.
Yes, there were the elements I mentioned above. The science was mostly hinted at and not in detail, which made me think at times what the story was supposed to be telling us. What gradually grew to make me like this movie was the tug-of-war between cold, unfeeling science and the love that exists for family and human life, especially that for a newborn so much so that, in his compassion, Victor, the genetic scientist, withdrew from what he later regrets not having done, which later culminates in hurt and pity.
Shades of Frankenstein the movie may have on the surface but it deals with deeper issues that influence and torment the different characters in the story - Victor the scientist, his assistants who, in one way or another, add to the mix of his work and the moralities involved, the tormented misgivings of his caregivers who trust and place hope in Victor's decisions which came too late, his wife who is also torn between her compassion and revulsion, and the safety of their own two little girls who are innocently caught up in the machinations. All of these add up to a nicely-blended mix that pull at our sympathies and yet horror at what we see coming. Last, but not least, is Victor's failed experiment which also tugs us both ways with fear and then the hurt that comes from the need for human closeness.
This is a movie that elicits expectations and depending on what these expectations are, it is little wonder we read the extreme poles of ratings and reviews among users and critics.
I, for one, enjoyed it. The low budget did hurt it a little, like the somewhat thin group of protesters. A bit of camera work attempted at giving it more substance with the illusion of bigger numbers, which did not work too well. What was done well were the close-ups of individual protesters that illustrated the hate and fear invoked.
Whether, in this day and age, people would come out to protest human cloning, we only have to look at the numbers coming out (on both sides) on the issue of same-sex marriage.
The lighting and camera angles, close-ups and deliberately out-of-focus scenes helped contribute to the mystery and suspense.
I also liked the added touch at the end on human evolution, though the science was not explained. It is, after all, sci-fi and we have seen throughout history that sci-fi has a way of becoming reality like those from Jules Verne and a particular communication device used in a classic star voyaging series that has survived for half a century to this very day.
Overall, a very good effort despite its low budget and thoroughly enjoyable (for me).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm writing this to say that i enjoyed watching this film, up until the end . In my own opinion I would have rather seen the baby Elizabeth live than be killed it made me upset to my stomach , I really wish there were a better ending. It seemed to me that the little boy Ethan new that the baby was also a clone and thought of her as a better made clone than he was so it made him crazy .... in the beginning it showed flash backs of him as a baby clone and with defects I get that the scientist couldn't harm the poor thing but he could of at least kept an eye on him he maybe could of then prevented everything bad from happening to him he new how to comfort him in the end when it was already too late that's what he should of done in the first place at least go and see him when the lady asked him to but he kept blowing it off and for that the ending came out very upsetting
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a relentlessly grim and humourless film understandably, given
the subject matter. Another modern day take on Frankenstein (loosely
speaking, most horror stories are), this deals with engineered babies
and cloning, and the reaction of modern day media and 'normal' people.
Elisabeth is the 'first' of these experiments, and public reaction is exacerbated when one of Doctor Victor's (Jeremy Childs) staff leaks a picture of her to the press: a normal looking child, she nevertheless has an electronic implement injected into her forehead. What follows are various viewpoints presented both for and against Victor's experimentation for some, it presents hope that certain diseases will be combatted as a result; for others, it represents a violation of their perception of the will of God ('Humans not clones/There's evil among us' they chanted like a mantra).
But Elizabeth is not the first experiment. The rampant and deformed Ethan has that dubious honour. Locked in his room, barely shown to the audience, he has behavioural disorders and continues to grow less manageable. One day, Ethan brutally kills the nanny Mary (Shelean Newman).
Exhausted, Ethan approaches Victor, having killed Elisabeth in another rage, who embraces him fatherly before giving him a fatal injection. The crowd of protesters outside his home falls silent as Victor shows them Elisabeth's corpse, asking 'Is this who you were afraid of?' Incensed, one protester shoots the doctor, killing him.
The subject matter of cloning isn't quite interesting enough to justify its screen time. The characters' reactions to the various developments, Victor's moral dilemma and his belief he is doing positive, progressive work against a whirlwind of protestation and alienation is very well conveyed. But it isn't until Ethan's escape and subsequent blurred violence that things become truly creepy. In the end, when the experiments have presumably come to a shuddering end, will the protesters be happy, or will they simply move on to the next Big Issue and be equally compelled to bring that to an end too?
It's quite a shame, that such a good story was rushed and unfinished.
At the start of the movie, you're thrown into this expecting a random jump scare at any moment, because this is a horror movie, apparently.
The story was amazing and original, but quite a shame it was really rushed. The movie felt too short, in the way that the ending felt rushed, but got the story across within the designated time-frame. The acting was amazing, they really added to the dark atmosphere of the whole movie, and your left on watch, because of that.
Not really that scary, but i admit. I went "NOPE, NOPE, NOPE" at a certain scene.
An interesting story, that is not really a "horror", but some kind of deep dark atmosphere type of movie. If you like this sort of creepy, morbid, dark, satanic type of film, than its worth a watch, i guess?
"This is just the beginning, isn't it ?
This being a kind of modern version of "Frankenstein", is the least you can say. Even the name of the doctor in question is identical with that of Frankenstein. The only difference with the classic movie is that new life isn't created by sewing together human body parts, but by making use of modern day technology. Cloning a human being is the central topic in this low-budget sci-fi horror. Don't expect an alien looking creature as in "Splice". This cloned human being looks perfectly normal and healthy.
It's not extremely creepy and intense at all. It's the aspect of cloning and the controversy arising on this subject which are developed the most. The fuss, the media attention and the protest groups who are opposed to these practices and consider this more as a blasphemy than scientific progress, demand the most attention. The angry mob at the immense gate of Dr. Reed's residence, is more terrifying than the additional secret that Victor is hiding on his domain. The movie fades from hight-tech SF to social drama. And ultimately it ends as a kind of psychopathic slasher. At first this surprises you, but eventually it looks rather routinely and not really innovative.
What remains is a not so original low-budget monster story, embellished with high-tech-looking situations. A highly motivated geneticist who puts more energy into his work than in his family life, resulting in a wife who feels abandoned. The secret that painstakingly is separated from the outside world, is hidden from sight for a considerable time or displayed as a hazy shape in the background. It felt like an attempt to keep the suspense alive and postpone the disclosure as long as possible.
Perhaps there should be restrictions and guidelines when it comes to cloning, so that we don't end up with an uncontrollable process where superior specimen are being created. Or an illegal trade is being initiated, producing organs on demand. That a religious aspect also comes with it, is quite evident. Though it's more of a dogmatic religious plea that no one should acquire the authority to create something. God has the exclusive rights for that, so they say. But then one must be able to admit that there are also advantages. Improving the quality of human life and removing those terrible diseases from the world. And there are also disadvantages. What to do with the failures ? And who's going to pass judgment on that matter ? This diversity of views is the heart and essence of this rather modest SF horror story.
The whole movie feels like a creation out of the 70's. The decor and presentation, the style of interactions, the overall atmosphere and the meager horror elements. Eventually, it all feels like a typical movie that you can see on Syfy. In the 80s it would fit in between "The Entity" and "Critters" during a VHS marathon at the weekend. The only similarity between Jeremy Childs and the Frankenstein monster, is his imposing stature. A walking wardrobe with a facial expression that shows no emotion. Not even while handling the cloned baby. It's all done on automatic pilot without much feelings. The subject of this movie and the reaction of the community comes across as being weighty. However, the film on itself, is nothing but a lightweight.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was hoping this would be creepy, but it was so low budget it didn't
really work. And it made little sense as well.
What really bothered me was all this protesting by supposed Christians who think cloning is satanic or something. Why is Hollywood so out of touch with the real world? I don't even remember anyone protesting when Planned Parenthood admitted to cutting up babies and selling their parts. In fact, they got another government grant for a billion dollars.
People protesting cloning is just silly. No one would do that.
And who would let this doctor take home cloned babies to keep in his house? Anyway, I was disappointed. I liked the idea, but it just fell flat.
I didn't expect much going into this, but what I got treated to was a pure disturbing joy. Impeccably acted, and downbeat from start to finish, the tension builds and builds to a horrific finish. I have to say, that on the subject matter therein this will be the definitive movie for years to come. Its astounding too that this is a debut feature by this director, being an extremely mature piece of filmmaking. What you get here is a Cronenbergian nightmare, which deals with an issue we will all find ourselves confronted with at some point in the distant future. Science and religion collide, but the very end of the movie leaves us with a piece of dialogue concerning just how much we might need to put our personal morals aside for the future of our species. This is easily one of the best horror movies I've seen this year, but if you're a horror fan who thinks that the genre must always be silly slashers and guts and gore then maybe you should go back to your Jason and Michael DVDs. This movie will play well to all lovers of great cinema however.
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