Splice (2009)

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IMDb Rating
5.8 out of 10 (view IMDb page)

  • 2/5 Star Rating.
(Based on 2 Ratings)
MPAA Rating:
R for disturbing elements including strong sexuality, nudity, sci-fi violence and language.
104 Minutes
Horror, Sci, Thriller
Vincenzo Natali
Vincenzo Natali (screenplay) &
Antoinette Terry Bryant (screenplay)
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Weekly Volcano's Review

Rev. Adam McKinney on June 2nd, 2010

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What do you get when you cross genes from various assorted plants, animals, bugs and fish? In Splice, Clive and Elsa (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) wound up with two writhing, tumorous, larva-like masses called Fred and Ginger. They are a new species, created with the intention of harvesting a special protein that will aid in curing all manner of livestock illnesses.

It's the next logical step, to Clive and Elsa - hip geneticists working at a company called Nucleic Exchange Research and Development, or NERD for short - to introduce human genes into the mix. Once this is accomplished, the aforementioned special protein will be able to cure genetic disorders in humans, such as Parkinson's and some cancers.

Of course, this is illegal. But Elsa is a stubborn little scientist, so she proceeds to create a human hybrid fetus, just to see if it's possible.

Oh boy, is it. The fetus grows and grows, far faster than could have been predicted, and before they know it, they have a grotesque infant on their hands. Over the course of the movie, it will experience its full life cycle in a matter of months.

A movie like this is designed to inspire questions in its viewers - questions about the morality of the experiment that is being undertaken. Is it worth bringing a new creature into the world, essentially torturing it in captivity for its entire life, for the sake of humankind? I believe it is. The rest of the movie, especially the end, asks a different question: How many lives are you willing to ruin for the sake of humankind?

Unfortunately, Clive and Elsa are a couple of morons. Encountered with these questions, they seem to think their only two options are to kill the creature, or to fall in love with it. They are blissfully unaware of a third option: to act like goddamn scientists.

But sure, history is littered with cruel scientific experiments conducted by people with hearts in the right place, but brains off on vacation.

There's the somewhat famous incident involving Lucy the chimpanzee. She was raised has a human from her birth-wearing human clothes, eating human food (she would enjoy a highball every now and again), and interacting exclusively with humans. When she became too big for the house in which she lived, her family dumped her in Africa, where she had no idea how to behave. She met her end when confronted by poachers, whom she approached because of her fondness for people.

Clive is against the existence of the creature from the very beginning. He tries again and again the kill it, but his hand is staid by Elsa, who gets all motherly and protective the moment the thing can walk. She looks at this creature that resembles a half-man-half-chicken (it has no arms at this point) and sees a child. Eventually, the creature will be named Dren, and it will sprout wings, amphibious lungs and - most insidiously - a stinger full of deadly venom.

Elsa grows closer and closer. Clive grows closer in a different way. And all the while we watch as these dumb people hurtle toward disaster. Clive and Elsa never sit down and have a talk about how Ginger, the tumorous mass, suddenly changes sexes and kills Fred, and what that might mean for them. Nothing is ever learned from the multiple times Dren is thought to be dead, but turns out only to be evolving.

All of this is to say that, yes, Splice does inspire questions. But, while we are left to answer them, the movie goes off the deep end and embraces sleaze and cheap horror. How necessary is it to add the complication of Clive and Dren? What does this development say about the experiment? At least the movie tries to give us a flimsy explanation for Elsa's pathologically motherly instincts, but it all adds up to nothing.

Intriguing though the first thirty minutes may be, in the end Vincenzo Natali cannot forget his horror roots. This makes for a frustrating watch: a movie that nourishes neither in the horror department nor the science fiction department.

If Splice can't explore its questions, and it can't scare us, either - then what's the point? - Two stars

User Reviews of Splice (2)

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chris said on Jun. 06, 2010 at 12:31pm

saw this movie at SIFF last week. definitely not your typical sci-fi movie. has its crazy preposterous moments for sure. good insight mckinney.

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  • 2/5 Star Rating.

Kristina said on Jun. 07, 2010 at 9:26am

I felt confused walking out of the theater after this one. So much more could have been done with this film. It seemed incomplete and rushed. There was a little too much glam for me, and not enough substance. Furthermore, if Science's best minds can behave with such dysfunctionality, what does that say for the rest of humanity?

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