The Godsend (1980)

Will “The Godsend” terrify you? That depends. Do squint-prone, innocent-looking toddlers send you running for the hills? Only if you’re lined up to babysit on a Friday night.

Like “The Bad Seed” and “Village of the Damned” before it, the British “Godsend” assumes there’s nothing quite as frightening as a mini blonde moppet with a thirst for blood. Unlike those two movies, however (or “The Omen,” for that matter, another film “Godsend” resembles in premise), “Godsend” is dreary, slow-moving and not the least bit scary.

Kate (Cyd Hayman) and Alan Marlowe (Malcolm Stoddard, whose eyebrows may be the most alarming thing in the movie) are heads of an idyllic family whose children start dying off one by one after a mysterious stranger enters their lives, gives birth in their spare bedroom and ditches out while everyone is asleep. The Marlowes adopt baby Bonnie as their own, but is Bonnie behind the family’s series of grim misfortunes? Spoiler alert: They wouldn’t have much of a movie if she wasn’t.

If the mystery woman looks a little familiar, that’s because she’s played by Angela Pleasance, who has the same face and piercing blue eyes as her father, Donald, if not his taste in horror scripts.

Truth be told, it’s difficult to categorize “The Godsend” as horror, anyway, given the limited quantity of horrifying goings-on going on. The movie just lays there, frankly, with Alan gradually being convinced Bonnie is the spawn of something evil while Kate merely accepts her family’s fate as a series of unfortunate consequences. And, as grim and serious as “The Godsend” perspicuously aims to be, it is a bit laughable how blasé these parents are every time they lose another child.

In the grand pantheon of thrillers about killer kids, “The Godsend” is the real bad seed.


Rated: R, but all of the violence is off-screen

Director: Gabrielle Beaumont

Starring: Malcolm Stoddard, Cyd Hayman

Worth a shot?: There are dozens of better killer-kid movies available, and they’re a lot less boring than this. ★



Categories: 1980s

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