An oddly engrossing cult item — sort of a Brady Bunch episode about cloning — this domestic sci-fi drama has resonated in unexpected places. "Eve," a popular episode of The X-Files, not only shares a similar plot about government-cloned girls with genius IQs and antisocial tendencies, but a name with one of this film's major characters. While the direction and cinematography are flat and the acting wooden, it's precisely this home-movie quality, this banal ordinariness, that makes the film's sinister, conspiratorial undertones all the more believably compelling. In suburban Flemington, N.J., 12-year-old Anna Hart (future soap-opera star Martha Byrne), has what her permanent record no doubt calls a bad attitude. A kleptomaniac who insults the "stupid" teachers at her school for gifted children, she's a budding physicist with no interest in the right-brain world. Anna, who suffers inexplicable headaches if she stares into fire or other flickering lights, begins having nightmares after a mysterious young woman, Michaela Dupont (Donna Mitchell), moves in next door. Anna's dad, Graham (Jack Ryland), a concert violinist, takes an immediate, paternal liking to the ingratiating Michaela, particularly since she's an excellent pianist who volunteers to coach Anna, whose playing has a coldly mathematical quality. Anna's teenage brother, Rowan (Mark Patton), nurses a schoolboy crush on Michaela (which an 11th-hour revelation makes hilariously disturbing), but mom Sarah (Dina Merrill) doesn't trust the woman.
Then Anna gets a life-changing jolt: The forced landing of a commuter plane nearby makes the news, and Anna sees a duplicate of herself — also named Anna — on TV. At first, Anna's convinced she's one of a pair of twins who were separately adopted, but the truth is weirder and more sinister. She's a clone of brilliant physicist Anna Zimmerman, who died shortly before perfecting a cloning process that a governmental project called Albacore wants. Sarah, a scientist, volunteered for the experiment without telling anyone; the other Anna is the child of a scientist and a musician. And it turns out there are more Annas — all of whom are eventually gathered at the high-security Albacore facility in a paranoid-conspiracy sequence that, unlike the rest of the movie, delivers some genuine suspense. Avuncular comic actor Jack Gilford, best known for playing gently beleaguered underdogs, has a creepy cameo that uses that persona well. Based on a young-adult novel by Mildred Ames, this unique and ultimately worthwhile story of family relationships appears to have debuted as an early made-for-cable film.
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- Released: 1982
- Rating: NR
- Review: An oddly engrossing cult item — sort of a Brady Bunch episode about cloning — this domestic sci-fi drama has resonated in unexpected places. "Eve," a popular episode of The X-Files, not only shares a similar plot about government-cloned girls with genius I… (more)