Christian Robshaw finds Closer to God to be an earnest sci-fi horror, even if it’s occasionally silly …
When I was offered the opportunity to review Closer to God, I was immediately drawn to it because a glance at its IMDb page suggested it might resemble the fascinating, flawed cult classic Splice and, if I was really lucky, it might even improve on its spiritual predecessor. Well, it does and it doesn’t, but the comparison really rather hurts Closer to God, which sets its own agenda with its slow pace and cerebral attitude, resembling the 2009 sci-fi-horror in no more than loose theme (ie. genetic experiment).
Closer to God’s premise is that a scientist (Jeremy Childs), unsubtly named Victor and sometimes disparagingly nicknamed “Frankenstein”, has in secret created the first cloned human being, a baby girl named Elizabeth (the mother who brought her to term is Mary as in Virgin but also as in Shelley, but if there’s a significance to “Elizabeth” then I missed it). He’s aware that Elizabeth might suffer complications, and he wishes to make sure she is completely healthy before going public with his work. But is that all there is to it? What’s he hiding, and what is the deal with Ethan, the unseen enfant terrible?
Unfortunately for him but fortunately for drama’s sake, Victor isn’t as good at keeping secrets as he believes, and the public gets wind of his research, a media circus descending on his home and the TV incessantly debating the ethics of playing God. It’s a nice set-up, the storm of demonstrators, both pro- and anti-, outside forcing Victor and his strange family-of-sorts to remain claustrophobically housebound, working through the issues as writer/director Billy Senese sees them. He does nice, restrained work, using the film’s low budget to his advantage and keeping things from looking too “TV”. The cast, almost entirely unknowns, are uniformly strong, and are helped by dialogue which, with very few lapses, sounds like natural speech, without the stiff exposition which is too often endemic to the science fiction genre.
Because make no mistake, this is science fiction, the sort of sombre and earnest science fiction that deals with the ethical implications of technology and has no time for silliness. Sadly Closer to God can’t quite escape silliness, because it takes as its premise that human cloning is dangerous – not socially dangerous, which is arguable, but medically dangerous, which there’s no reason to believe, unless you accept that it’s because clones don’t have a soul. But to accept that is to pre-empt the religious and ethical debates that are the film’s core, dulling its power as a discussion of the issues. On the other hand, as a science fiction premise, it isn’t nearly as far-fetched as Jurassic Park or even Splice, and if you run with it then you’re still left with a good, slow, interesting and, at points, even scary film.
So what do you think about Closer to God? Let us know in the box below and be sure to visit Christian’s site Mediocre Batman!