There comes a time when a low-budget film has high hopes and does a uniquely clever science fiction or horror film with limited funds and succeeds in being able to compensate for what it lacks. Closer to God is none of those things. Victor (Jeremy Childs) is a genetic scientist who successfully clones the first human being, her name is baby Elizabeth. The cloning has gone successful but Victor soon deems it best to withhold the news of the first successful cloning from the general public to make sure everything is alright with Elizabeth. Consequently, a disgruntled employee questioning Victor’s ethics leaks the information to the press, unleashing the storm very storm Victor was hoping to avoid.
Victor’s home life is anything but heavenly, with a career leaving him too busy for such trivialities; his wife has lost all interest in Victor and life, leaving their housekeepers to practically raise their two little girls. “Right now this is more important,” he says of his life’s work.
To make matters worse, there’s something in the “attic” (really an upstairs bedroom) – something up there goes bump in the night. Here we meet Ethan (Isaac Disney), a pale Orlok who’s the original clone gone wrong (of course). It turns out that Ethan wasn’t supposed to live past a month, yet he somehow survives. When given the option to terminate the infant Victor decides not to incinerate his creation, finding it more humane to keep Ethan locked away instead. Having baby Elizabeth seems almost pointless at this point, because of the fact that an Ethan storyline would have been far more interesting than the one proposed by the filmmakers; it would have been more along the lines of It’s Alive (1974) and less a bad drama.
Nevertheless, there is backlash and director Billy Senese continues to make references to Frankenstein (1931), with a mob of religious zealots gathering with metaphorical pitchforks at his lavish gates to protest human cloning. Moreover, the heavy-handed references are eye-rolling bad: the doctor’s name is Victor, after Victor Frankenstein, get it?, the mob refers to him as Dr. Frankenstein, with signs of a caricature of Victor and Frankenstein’s monster, which sort of makes no sense – wouldn’t Ethan or Elizabeth be the Monster in the caricature?
Closer to God is a banal venture into what could have been an interesting subject, but instead becomes something plain, ornery, and clinical. It slowly trudges through the mechanisms of being a dull home drama and a trite morality tale about the dual positions on cloning only to, for whatever reason, toss in cliched horror towards the end. I’ not one to advocate horror, gore, the macabre, or anything along those lines in favor of story (although I love that stuff too), however, but you need more than cheap scares. The film lacks interesting characters, dialogue, or ideas – here’s a film with an idea and not enough brain to articulate it properly and no charm to keep viewers interested. It would be safer for this film to be locked away in the attic, or better yet incineration, like Victor should have done with his own abnormal creation.