Clive (Brody) is a superstar geneticist who dresses like a hipster rock musician. Girlfriend Elsa (Polley)—the brainiac Nancy Spungen to his Sid Vicious—works with DNA as if it had a shake, rattle and roll melody to harness. Their latest experiment, done on the sly, produces Dren (Chanac), a test-tube hybrid of animal and human genes who looks like she could have stepped out of a Chris Cunningham video. Clive and Elsa treat her like an accidental child—dearly loved at some moments, roundly hated at others. But with her accelerated growth rate (she’s an adult about a month after birth), she should be out of their hair soon enough, and science will be the better for it.
If you’ve seen Species, you know where this don’t-mess-with-Mother-Nature horror show is going, though director-cowriter Vincenzo Natali has a few interesting twists up his sleeve. The best of these approach Cronenbergian levels of perversity (the line “inside you!” will be forever etched in your memory). But despite the game cast, everything feels derivative of other, superior films. The sole exception is a sequence set at a stockholders’ meeting, during which more of Clive and Elsa’s creations (two amorphous sentient blobs called “Fred” and “Ginger”) do a bloody dance of death. Like their namesakes, they steal the show, though their crimson carioca is, sadly, a one-time-only deal.—Keith Uhlich
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