Genetic engineering is at the forefront of science these days, so it’s not surprising that brilliant biochemists Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), lovers-and-colleagues who have been featured on the cover of Wired magazine, are given free rein in their laboratory facilities. Their specialty is “multi-specie morphism,” a.k.a. splicing DNA from different animals to create new hybrids. Now they propose stretching the boundaries by adding human DNA to revolutionize medicine. But the French pharmaceutical company that funds their research forbids it. So do they meekly go back to their desks in defeat? Far from it.
Rhetorically asking, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Elsa secretly uses her own DNA and the result is a bizarre, mutant creature that names itself Dren, which is ‘nerd’ spelled backwards. Their ‘experiment’ is so extraordinary that the self-serving scientists rationalize, “Nobody’s going to care about a few rules when they see what we’ve made.”
Unable to verbalize except in squeaks and chirps, Dren (Delphine Chaneac) possesses an eerie, uncommon intelligence, expressing herself with evocative words made out of Scrabble letters. While somewhat humanoid, Dren also displays a surprising array of unique physical characteristics, including long, hinged bird-like legs, amphibious lungs, retractable wings and a prehensile tail with a poisonous stinger tip.