The idea of man toying with the laws of nature and playing God can be traced all the way back to Mary Shelley’s seminal Frankenstein to more recent affairs such as Vincenzo Natali’s Splice. Closer to God, from writer/director Billy Senese, sits comfortably amongst its peers with its tale of a geneticist, Dr Victor, announcing to the world that he has successfully cloned the first human being. Unfortunately for Victor, the product of this experiment, baby Elizabeth, is not hailed as the next step in human advancement, but as a blasphemy and an affront to all that’s decent.
With his family in tow, the good doctor hides himself away, shaking his fist at a world that doesn’t understand. Meanwhile, his housekeeper’s take care of Victor’s first real achievement.
Senese’s film should be acknowledged for at least being restrained in the way it tells its tale. Victor, played by Jeremy Childs, could have easily been another Herbert West type, fiddling with test tubes and using the building blocks of life to create monstrosities. Instead he is a methodical man who is aware of his supposed crimes against humanity, but is at a loss as to way they are such a big deal. Although he sits up in his modern retreat, Senese paints each scene as if James Whale had taken the helm.
Which is all find and dandy. However, the film is so serious and portentous that it almost feels languid; as if not really concerned about reaching its end. That is, right up until all hell breaks loose in the final third and it becomes a creature feature with the modern equivalent of pitchforks at the gate being played out. In front of the baying mob, Victor cries ‘Is this what you were afraid of?’ The answer is, if we knew what we were looking at then maybe.
This review was originally published at filmink.com.au.