For those of you that haven't been following the Loose Cannons podcast, their newest episode marks the entrance into Cannon Films' golden age – the eighties. Cannon's first project of the decade was Gabrielle Beaumont's The Godsend, for which I watched for today's edition of VHS Fridays.
After Alan (Malcolm Stoddard) & Kate (Cyd Hayman) find themselves caring for an abandoned baby, their family is visited by tragedy after tragedy. Could their adopted daughter be the cause?
So, there's really no way around it. This felt like a diluted knock-off of 1976's The Omen. While it is true the book by Bernard Taylor on which The Godsend was based came out that same year, it's difficult to deny that it wasn't influenced heavily by the Richard Donner classic. They both share many of the same beats, but The Godsend goes for subtlety over its more colourful counterpart, thus being noticeably less interesting as a result.
The movie begins almost instantly with a strange pregnant woman (Angela Pleasance, daughter of Donald) being invited into the unsuspecting family's home. Then, no sooner than you can say placenta, she's dropped a fetus and peaced out. Pleasance's performance was such I couldn't decide whether it was creepy or awkward. She had this weird thousand-yard stare and the way she moved around made me think at one point her character was supposed to be blind. Anyway, the couple seemed to be immediately on board with keeping this thing, even though they already had four (yes, FOUR) kids. And, that included two gingers and another baby. What a fucking nightmare! I mean, that is literally a horror movie right there, am I right? And that's even before “Bonnie” started knocking them off.
|Angela Pleasance as The Strang-- Can you please stop looking at me like that??
So, the children started dying in mysterious ways and only the last daughter remained before the father started to clue in. The mother was completely blinded by love, despite her tripping over her daughter's doll – losing yet another child – and her husband left sterile from contracting the mumps (who knew that was a thing?) and continued to think everything was hunky-dory. Kate was really good at compartmentalizing grief, I'll give her that.
The father pretty much does everything short of killing his evil orphan, but she always seems to be in the right spot when anyone is precariously leaning over a high drop. I mean, seriously, after one or two of your siblings drop, you think you'd be a bit more wary of your surroundings.
As a horror film, the subject matter was familiar, but sadly most of the bad stuff happened offscreen. We certainly don't get anything as ace as someone getting their head sheared off by a plate of glass, so the proceedings were rather less than. I will say, however, that the girls (Wilhelmina Green & Joanne Boorman) they got to play Bonnie at various ages could glower with the best of them.
I wouldn't put this in the upper echelon of killer kid movies, but it was still fairly well put together, and Alan's attempts to convince Kate their daughter was evil were pretty hilarious in a did-you-really-think-this-would-work kind of way.
I have a solution. Don't have kids. Problem solved. The End.