Dark Castle Entertainment
Vincenzo Natali’s Splice is a puzzler of a film. In essence, a modern day Frankenstein story centering around the experiments of young scientist super couple Clive (Adrien Brody’s nose) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), hired by some sort of faceless company in order to engineer various biological scientific patents. They specialize in a form of bio-engineering that has allowed them to combine several bits of D.N.A from various animals and create a new life form, specifically a kind of animated grey turd with no recognisable features…a bit like Andie Macdowell. However, they decide to hurl all established rule books – moral, ethical or otherwise – into a huge bin and conduct a secret experiment behind everyone else’s backs by shoving some human D.N.A in there as well. Low and behold they end up making a human animal hybrid that is simultaneously elegant, dangerous, childlike, innocent and weirdly sexual. As a consequence of their action, shit and fan unsurprisingly collide in a most spectacular “science should know its limits, one cannot play god” sort of way.
Now, having watched it, digested it and had plenty of time to think about it, I’m still not entirely sure whether I enjoyed or really…thoroughly disliked Splice. First of all, what Natali has tried to achieve is commendable in itself; at heart you can see he wants to make some sort of utterly weird David Crononberg taking on the concept of the family unit.
The film features some extremely bizarre scenes as the lines between seeing Dren (the creature’s name is ‘nerd’ backwards, clever that innit?) as an experiment and viewing her as a child become increasingly blurred. However, for whatever reason, be it wish of mainstream success, or some studio meddling or whatever, the film never really truly gives into this body horror via 2 point 4 children vision and instead finds itself trying to be a more generic horror affair. As a result, the tone of the whole piece is extremely jarring, it’s like two totally separate films rubbing awkwardly against one another, scrambling for screen time. Basically, it all feels rather off.
Other than Dren, which is a quite wonderful monster creation anchored by fine performance by Delphine Chaneac, who manages to be other worldly, worryingly unpredictable and oddly sexual all at once, none of the actors really shine through. In their defence this was partly to do with the cliché riddled script (that had several members of the audience I viewed it with laughing), and a collection of plot holes big enough that you could fly a godless human animal hybrid through them.
Hopefully Splice can simply remain nothing more than – like Dren herself – a partly failed experiment; a nice attempt at the sort of monster film rarely seen on wide release these days and not go down the road of Natali’s most famous creation, Cube, a road paved with exponentially shittier straight-to-DVD sequels, seemingly with the single minded goal of ruining whatever made the original any good.