Directed by Vincenzo Natali. Starring Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac.
This ‘different’ film that’s basically like a female version of Frankenstein or most any other film about genetic mutation or alteration could have been horrifying and moving but instead turns out to be quite banal and predictable.
Genius genetic scientists Elsa (Polley) and Clive (Brody) have created Fred and Ginger, two lab-born living beings that will eventually be milked of their complex compounds to provide humans with cures for disease. But not stopping there, the over-zealous and slightly disturbed Elsa decides to fuse human DNA with animal DNA, a splice as it were, and create a mutant child she calls DREN. With alien-like features (and a voice like cousin IT from the Addam’s Family), this new creation ages rapidly but grows even faster in the heart of Elsa who adopts DREN as a daughter much to the chagrin of Clive who worries about the repercussions and dangers this may pose to humanity.
So basically what American-Canadian director Natalie has done is splice together the ideas and stories of several older (and better) films in this genre. Just because it has some eerie music and a sex scene involving DREN (Chanéac) and Brody doesn’t make it daring or groundbreaking.
Expectedly DREN must grow up and adapt to being left in a basement with very few things to keep her occupied. But she learns quickly and much to the surprise of her ‘parent-prisoners’ has various interesting talents like breathing under water and sprouting wings (X-Men anyone?). Sarah Polley plays controlling woman obsessed with ambition adequately but Brody’s initially reluctant father figure Clive turning into DREN’s protector is very lame and corny. So basically guys will sleep with anything right? Even a half-daughter. Hmmm…
What’s really funny is that the filmmakers got a Brody doppelganger to play his brother Gavin (Brandon McGibbon) in the film. Sorry, but it’s all just too weird. The danger posed by DREN, her evolution and the mystery surrounding her aren’t really tackled. There’s no eeriness about it all. You know what’s scary? It’s Elsa’s emotional bond to DREN. And how that bond goes from protective mother to jealous and psycho zealot. And as for the over-the-top finale and the Alien-inspired (mutant baby) ending I can only say rip-off!