Director Vincenzo Natali has created a science fiction/horror film starring Adrien Brody and Sara Polley as bio genetic engineers. They are not only partners at work, but also a couple. They live together in a cramped, but artfully decorated apartment. Brody is Clive Nicoli; Polley, Elsa Kast. The screenplay was written by Antoinette Terry Bryant. Thanks to Brody and Polley's talents, they were able to overcome some really bad dialogue. Critics, for the most part, gave this movie high marks. (EW gave it an A-) This is one film I had to agree with Mick La Salle of the San Francisco Chronicle on. He gave it a C+.

Right from the start, I found myself suppressing laughter. This is a serious film! With Clive and Elsa engaged in cutting edge experiments in gene splicing to devlop cells that the the medical profession can use to cure diseases.

Clive and Elsa successfully create a new life form - - male and female - - they cutely name Fred and Ginger - - which looks for all the world like a huge, fat, flaccid penis (both sexes) whom they display in their Lucite case. Fred and Ginger proceed to feel each other up using a feathery red "tongue" that emerges from the "head". These creatures can change sexes it is discovered later when they are displayed to an audience of investors who soon find themselves covered in bloody gore. Elsa and Clive's boss tells them that they will receive no more funding for other projects.

Not to be undone, Elsa secretly grows her own life form in an incubator-like container, in a locked lab on the premises. Clive finds out. He remonstrates. They argue. But he is intrigued (a scientist, after all). He will keep her secret. They monitor the thing's development, recording notes and all. The thing escapes and makes horrible screeching noises. It bounces around the lab like the plucked chicken it resembles, or like a balloon expelling air. It grows, and grows, and grows into a wide-eyed bald girl whose chicken wings soon become like human arms, but her legs, tsk tsk, remain birdlike, in fact they resemble ostrich legs, and boy, does she ever use them. She's all over the place. They discover it's female.

They name her Dren ("nerd" backwards, get it?), played by French actress Delphine Chaniac. She comes down with a fever. Elsa treats her like a real child which worries Clive. In fact, he is fearful they will be found out and you get that he does not have good feelings about the whole situation. Working with Elsa to cure her, he does something the intent of which was so blatantly obvious to us, but ends up instead accidentally saving her life. Elsa thinks he knew all along that his action would cure Dren. At this point, I no longer bothered to hold back my laughter; neither did others.

Clive's brother Gavin (Brandon McGibbon) works with the lab. He finds out about their experiment. How can he not? Dren is so noisy, knocking over lab equipment, shelves, and glass cabinets. They swear him to secrecy. Dren almost kills Gavin, so they move her to Elsa's rundown childhood farm (which Clive knew nothing about).

At the farm, it's revealed that Elsa had a really rotten childhood, hinting of abuse by her mom. Dren is a captive in the barn and has enough sense to try to escape. In one try, it's revealed she has retractable wings which conveniently emerge from open seams in her cute, little black mini-dress. Clive and Elsa exchange bad cop/good cop roles in caring for Dren. Clive teaches her to slow dance. Elsa gives her a doll. Tables turn when Dren gets the hots for Clive and Elsa is jealous, natch. The ending is something like a cross between "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," and swampy vampire films, plus a taste of "Rosemary's Baby."

Remember: Elsa's "creatures" can change sexes. Look for "Splice 2" in the near future.