SCI-FI HORROR; 1hr 44min
STARRING: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac
Shock waves: Polley and Brody
What happens when two renegade biochemists go off the research grid to splice a human-animal hybrid? A bio-techno bunfight wrapped in a playing-God moral quandary and finished with phenomenal creature-feature effects, that’s what. Married and professional couple Clive and Elsa (a businesslike Brody and Polley, steering straight through the craziness) are exceptionally clever. Along with that comes the compulsion to smash parameters — plus Elsa has unaddressed motherhood issues. Their creation of unprecedented life form Dren (Chanéac as an adult) is a revolutionary act, and where there’s revolt there’s bound to be anarchic fallout.
Hairless and eerily ethereal, Dren — that’s nerd spelled backwards — is part human female, part spindle-shanked beast, part reptile, part amphibian and part massive bird. There’s a lot going on there and as she grows in all her acute innocence, sharp intelligence and emotional intensity, so does the ethical dilemma of her containment. Basically, Clive and Elsa have engineered a force they can’t comprehend or control. In laying the ramifications of that out, writer-director Vincenzo Natali (Cube) pushes boundaries and skirts the absurd. The culmination is a singular slant on horror.