DVD: The American (15)

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The Independent Culture

"We've been dancing to the wrong beat," claims Sarah Polley's driven geneticist, Elsa. Well, stop dancing, Elsa.

Immediately. Before you fashion, along with your dopey scientist husband, Clive (Adrien Brody, who wears an expression of befuddlement throughout Splice), a lethal new creation. The Frankenstein pair splice together Elsa's DNA (done without Clive's permission; the couple have a dysfunctional relationship) and animal sources.

The couple, who work for a profit-hungry pharmaceuticals firm, first splice together a couple of angry blobs – Fred and Ginger – before they hit pay dirt (sort of) with Dren (Delphine Chanéac). Dren starts out life as a twitchy little mite scampering around the couple's secret lab, before very quickly developing into a human female – only with wings, aquatic lungs, a tail and a venomous nature. Initially, Clive is keen on killing Dren, labelling her "a mistake" and attempting to drown her; however, an increasingly unhinged Elsa treats her like a daughter, giving her Barbie dolls and fixing her lipstick. But affections for the creature quickly change, with Elsa's disciplinarian lopping-off of Dren's tail after some naughty behaviour, and Clive ending up, well, bonking his "daughter" in a barn.

This horror is bonkers, but not quite bonkers enough. David Cronenberg would have done Splice more justice. However, Polley does deliver a very committed turn.

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