What starts out as a promising sci-fi thriller loses vital steam in an underwhelming third-act climax evidently affected by budgetary limits.
Co-writer/director Vincenzo Natali (Cube) leisurely develops the characters of romantically linked biochemists Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), whose DNA-splicing experiments are under threat of losing funding. Elsa's desire to have a child for whom Clive isn't ready seems to inform her decision to go rogue, and so she inserts some of her own DNA into the hybrid animal/monster they've created — think Eraserhead.
The filmmaker's inability to deepen suspense comes to the fore as the duo hides their creepy experiment in a disused basement room of their company N.E.R.D.'s industrial facility without much interference — except from Clive's blank-slate brother Gavin (Brandon McGibbon). Once born, the bald female creature assumes the name Dren (NERD spelled backwards) and the real fun begins.
Visually, the film is under-designed to a fault. From a script perspective, glaring plot holes open up with annoying regularity. Still, Delphine Chanéac is mesmerizing as the adult creature whose surprising physical abilities provide the story with some intriguing, if not fully realized, plot twists.
There's a dash of Rosemary's Baby in a film that wants to present more of a horrifying scientific moral dilemma than it's able to deliver. Grade: C-plus
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