The Horror Honeys: Closer to God: Attack of the Clones

Closer to God: Attack of the Clones

A Sci-Fi Honey New Release Review by Katie

Closer to God (2015)

Human cloning: some see it as an inevitability of advancement in medicine, fueled by the life-saving demand for creating healthy tissue and organs for those in need. Others believe cloning to be a troubling and dangerous slippery slope that only serves to fuel the hubris of those who sanction this form of scientific progress. In his new sci-fi indie Closer to God, writer/director Billy Senese sheds light on the wonder as well as the inherent tragedy in both systems of belief. The result is an emotionally engaging and frequently unsettling look at human nature through the lens of a Cronenbergian horror story.

Jeremy Childs stars as Dr. Victor Reed, a scientist who has succeeded in cloning a healthy baby girl, Elizabeth. Funded by independent means, news of Elizabeth’s existence is leaked to the media and met with heated scrutiny. Protestors with conservative religious backgrounds demonstrate in front of Victor’s home with signs and chants, vilifying the doctor’s work and the moral gray area it occupies. Elizabeth has no soul, they contend, since she was created in a lab – and Victor is forming an unfavorable comparison to the fabled Victor Frankenstein, whose own experiment with creating life resulted in disaster for all involved. Little do they know, however, Victor has attempted cloning before… and his heavily guarded secret won’t stay buried for long.

Aww, what an adorable little abomination.
Keeping with the theme of Frankenstein, the film doesn’t assign blame for what ensues on the product of the doctor’s creationist experiment. The cloned children were born not of their own volition, into a world that isn’t capable of understanding them and therefore can only violently reject them. Victor touts his work as a noble endeavor for scientific evolution, but he also has a wife and two biological children that he routinely ignores – problematizing his apparent motive in creating the ‘perfect’ cloned child. The real victims of this story are the children who suffer the consequences of choices made by adults on both sides of the cloning issue; especially the product of Victor’s first experiment, who was deemed a failure before he’d even been given a chance to demonstrate his humanity. As the film cautions, it is only a matter of time before something you label a monster and treat as an outcast will show you what kind of monster they can really be. 

You've been warned.
First-time director Senese cleverly plays his cards close to his chest for most of the film, gradually building on a finely-tuned sense of dread as the story unfolds. One of the biggest mistakes a horror filmmaker can make is revealing the ‘monster’ indelicately or too quickly, undermining all the suspense that had been mounting until that point. Senese is careful to keep certain characters and information under wraps until they reveal themselves organically, culminating in a violent climax of bloodshed and tears. The term ‘slow burn’ gets tossed around a lot as a fancy way of describing a film that doesn’t move at a Michael Bay pace; here, Closer to God embodies that expression in the best way possible, inching along a precarious fuse until it erupts like a powder keg.

Cloned babies, available soon at Wal-Mart.
Along with Frankenstein and allusions to Cronenberg’s work, especially The Brood (1979), Closer to God brings yet another cautionary horror story to mind: Splice (2009). While the question isn’t resolutely answered, both films make you wonder: just because we can do something, does that mean we should? Science in and of itself is not the enemy, but how we use it can be in service to either good or evil. Conversely, how we react to progress reveals where we place our values as individuals and as a society. As Closer to God careens toward a resolution, neither side of the debate comes out wholly righteous or wholly in the wrong, both relying on the most innate human instincts and emotions to make a statement for their cause. No matter where you think your own convictions lie, Closer to God will leave you contemplating all sides of the issue for long after the credits have rolled.

Sci-Fi Honey Rating: Four clones gone wrong out of five.

Closer to God is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube VOD, Vudu, Xbox, & Google Play. Closer to God will also have a limited theatrical run!

What has been YOUR favorite sci-fi film this summer?
Tell me on Twitter: @moonrisesister