Following the near merciless critical drubbing and catastrophic box office failure of his adaptation of The Bonfire Of The Vanities, Brian De Palma here returns to the type of moviemaking that earned him the nickname Brian I DC Plasma.
Taking time out from his practice to be with his daughter Amy during her formative years, child psychologist Dr. Carter Nix's (Lithgow) obsessive mollycoddling of her eventually causes his wife (Davidovich) some concern, especially when his compulsive attentions seem to form part of a bizarre behavioural experiment resulting in the manifestation of Cain, Carter's murderous alter-ego.
As the body count mounts, De Palma blurs the line between fantasy and reality with gleeful affrontery, creating a dazzling tapestry of visual cheats and narrative trickery which propels his scarcely credible characters and ludicrous plot - involving multiple personalities, babynapping and homicidal maniacs - through to its nervy conclusion.
Famed for his trademark homages to Hitchcock - in this case the car in the marsh scene from Psycho and screeching Herrmannesque violins on the score - De Palma brazenly reworks themes from his own back catalogue, notably Dressed To Kill, with each successive stylistic gimmick cranking up the black humour to a near impossible level.
Indeed this is exactly the film you'd expect De Palma to make, an exercise in visual excess over content, seeking to outdo the Steadicam shot that opens Bonfire with another breathtaking feat of precision and timing, while ending with a deliciously drawn-out, marvellously manipulative set piece - involving a slow-motion baby and a pram a la The Untouchables - that is as audacious as it is wildly preposterous.