Dir: Vincenzo Natali
Star: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac, Gavin Nicoli

Given Natali's credentials as the director of some of the smarter SF movies out there e.g. Cypher and Cube, this was an immense disappointment, being a tired rehash of the Frankenstein story, with Science Meddling In Things With Which It Shouldn't. Genetic engineers/lovers Clive Nicoli (Brody) and Elsa Kast (Polley) have succeeded in joining DNA from different animals to create entirely new species, opening up a Pandora's Box of possibilities. The next step is to mix animal and human DNA: initially "just to see if they can," but before you can say "villagers with torches", there's this weird looking creature (Chanéac) scurrying about the lab, growing fast. It's amphibious, hungry and possesses a whip-tail containing a stinger. Clive, sensibly, wants to kill it, but Elsa's maternal instincts are awoken and she insists on keeping "Dren," as she names it in secret. What's the worst that could happen?

That last sentence is actually the final line of the film, spoken in reaction to a conclusion that is blatantly foreshadowed from the moment the pair see a company presentation go horribly wrong [think ED-209 in Robocop]. Really, for a pair of supposed geniuses, they seem clinically incapable of making sane choices, even when Dren's behaviour would raise an entire forest of red flags to anyone with a lick of sense. I mean, have they never even heard of "Frankenstein"? It's one thing to feel mentally superiour to a bunch of horny teenagers in a slasher flick, but when you feel the same way in regard to two scientific experts, there's something wrong. For example, you have a unique creature, already proven dangerous...and you abandon her in a ramshackle barn. As a pot-boiler, it has its moments - and did provoke much yelling of "Nooooo! Don't dooooo it!" at the screen - but the creature seems like something off the back of a 12-year old's English jotter, and the CGI used to create it is not exactly great shakes. Give it credit for not shying away from the difficult questions, e.g. is it cheating on your wife if you fuck a hybrid made from her DNA?

[April 2011]

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