Splice is Vincenzo Natali’s delightful and disturbing concoction of science, absurd humour, dark sex and of course a monster. An update of Frankenstein in the era of genetic manipulation, Splice takes us into the lives of Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) who are the rockstars of the scientific world. The film begins with them having spliced together pink sluglike blobs named Fred and Ginger from whom they can harvest proteins for the pharmaceutical company funding their experiments. When Clive and Elsa try to request funding for a project that involves splicing human DNA into their creatures they are quickly shut down. Not easily deterred Clive and Elsa decide to go ahead with their project in secret and in a series of escalating dares and temptations, they allow their creature, Dren, to grow into a big problem.
The film had its ups and downs and although the conclusion proved to be a little absurd it ends up going down easy as Natali navigates his audience through strange terrain, all the while maintaining a healthy balance of disturbing plots twists and dark humour. It is able to tackle issues such as genetic manipulation, cloning and definitions of humanity with varying degrees of success. The film’s more unsettling elements spoke to the Cronenberg lover within and had me squirming in delight. Natali’s inclusion of quirky jokes and absurdist situations allows viewers to settle in for an amusing, albeit dark ride. The real element that works in the film is Brody and Polley’s chemistry. Each handles their character with a dark intensity and is able to breathe life into their onscreen relationship in a very believable way. Another definite highlight in this film was the creature, Dren. Created with an almost seamless blend of makeup and CG, Dren is a fascinating and simultaneously skin crawling sight to behold. Dren’s ‘not quite human’ existence is the moral centerpoint of the whole film and serves as a stunning example of what can happen when moral judgements get blurred and situations slip beyond our control.
Although Splice is entertaining and perhaps one of the most creative films in recent years it definitely will not be everyones cup of tea. The film rests firmly in the science fiction/moral parable genre and is not a typical horror film . However, what this film lacks in scares and suspense it more than makes up for in its disturbing storyline which puts an innovative twist on a classic tale.