A tepid knock-off of The Omen from Cannon Films

Evil children have been a staple of horror films dating back to the 1960s. Capitalizing on the success of The Omen, Cannon Films produced The Godsend in 1980 featuring one such young kid. The movies share many similarities as they explore the dynamic between well-meaning parents and thoroughly manipulative children. From famed B-movie producers Golan and Globus, it’s a fine example of understated English horror that moves a bit tepidly until things get more interesting near the end.

Alan (Malcolm Stoddard) and Kate Marlowe (Cyd Hayman) are a happy couple that have four young children. Living in a rural English village, their life is perfect and carefree. A mysterious woman shows up looking for assistance from the couple. The woman is pregnant and gives few clues to her identity. The couple take her into their home for the night when the woman suddenly has to give birth. The baby is successfully delivered and the mysterious woman disappears the next morning, leaving her baby behind. Alan and Kate decide to adopt the abandoned baby, naming her Bonnie. The baby with strikingly blue eyes and shockingly blond hair is welcomed into the family by everyone.

Bonnie is a different child than the others. The adorable little girl appears to have powers of some kind that manifest when she wants to eliminate the competition. It all begins to go downhill for the family when the children start dying in very unusual and convenient ways. Bonnie seems to be pure evil but her parents chalk up the deaths as accidents. After a couple of their children die in these accidents, suspicion in the village begins to shift toward Alan and Kate. The Godsend then plods along until a more confrontational final act juices things up involving Bonnie and her parents.

… taking most of its cues from The Omen in tone without the stylish kill sequences.

This is the epitome of understated English horror with its lack of gore and aversion to supernatural hijinks. It is a fairly tame R-rated movie, taking most of its cues from The Omen in tone without the stylish kill sequences or grander religious themes. A number of young actresses play Bonnie as she grows up. The script doesn’t really require much of them outside of a viciously evil stare, the one thing working in this film’s favor. Stoddard and Hayman provide serviceable but workmanlike performances in their lead roles. One of the film’s oversights is the lack of another adult character to provide some kind of external perspective on the events surrounding Bonnie.

If one can make it through the plodding opening acts, the conflict does heat up in a stronger final act. There is a moment of odd hilarity when Bonnie begins to interfere with her parent’s efforts to have sex and conceive another child. The Godsend is competently made horror that won’t inspire hordes of fans. It works fine as a knock-off of The Omen and better horror films.


All wet @ 23:01

The Godsend arrives in a double-feature set with The Outing on a BD-50. The two films share the disc from Scream Factory. The new HD transfer is one of Scream’s better attempts on Blu-ray. The transfer comes from mostly undamaged film elements in serviceable condition. The 1980 horror film isn’t particularly noteworthy in terms of cinematography. It looks like many softer films from the era with decent definition and modest detail. Some minor debris remains on the print but clarity remains consistently excellent.

The 85-minute main feature is encoded in a satisfactory AVC effort. There are no overt artifacts, it handles the grain structure and black levels pretty easily. The video doesn’t appear to have been filtered and there is a distinct lack of ringing with the exception of one scene. Close-ups have crisp definition and some finer detail. The thick, uniform grain found on the opening reel becomes more and more organic-looking as the movie plays. Contrast remains fairly strong throughout the film. A couple of scenes push the black levels but its average shadow delineation is perfectly fine.

This is not a spectacular Blu-ray but one that works quite well for the older horror film. Scream Factory has done everything possible to make The Godsend look as good as it can in 1080P resolution. The video is framed in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.

Video ★★★★☆

A respectable 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack presumably delivers the original audio in a clean presentation. Roger Webb’s schmaltzy score occasionally overpowers the rest of the soundtrack but dialogue has a crisp delivery. Fidelity is fairly high without any noticeable wear to the tapes. The soundstage is coherent enough to project a big sound with some bass and extension.

Optional English subtitles appear in a white font.

Audio ★★★☆☆

Scream Factory has released The Godsend as part of a double-feature with The Outing. Trailers for both movies are included.

The Godsend’s Theatrical Trailer (01:55 in HD)

Extras ★☆☆☆☆

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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