Film (2010). Gaumont presents a Copperheart Entertainment/Dark Castle Entertainment production in association with Senator Entertainment Co. Directed by Vincenzo Natali. Written by Natali and Antoinette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor; story by Natali and Bryant. Cast includes Adrien Brody, Delphine Chanéac, Brandon McGibbon and Sarah Polley. 104 minutes. Colour.
A long-gestated homage – including an anonymous contribution by Jonathan Lethem – to the early Horror films of Natali's fellow Canadian icon David Cronenberg, this enthusiastically lurid slice of biotechnological Grand Guignol follows a husband-and-wife team of genetic engineers (see Genetic Engineering) as they injudiciously create an illicitly gene-spliced baby in the laboratory which proceeds to grow Species-style through an accelerated cycle of ontogenetic changes and associated plot gear-shifts. A familiar cautionary rhetoric about the dangers of playing fast and loose with regulatory ethics in the quest for a cure for Alzheimer's (see Deep Blue Sea) is the pretext for an ingenious if consistently predictable sequence of escalating squirm-along Biological twists, with effective use of an incestuously restricted cast – a variation on Natali's preoccupation with closed Pocket Universes – combinatorially disrupted by a Sex-changing Frankenstein Monster, and a story arc phrased around queasy familial inversions and biocycles of death and resurrection. The film loses some momentum at the midpoint when the creature is recast with a digitally-manipulated adult (Chanéac) and the action relocates from the biotech facility to an old dark creepy farm in the woods, but the replicative inexorability with which the twists unspool in order exerts its own wry pull. [NL]
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