We are once again reminded that brilliant scientist should never be left alone. Splice, released today, is a sci fi/horror flick about a science experiment gone bad, real bad. Clive and Elsa are lead biochemist at a research company called N.E.R.D (nice) who have successfully spliced different types of animals to form new life forms. There hopes of mixing in human DNA are dashed when the corporation funding the project decides to shut it down. Out of desperation, the ambitious scientist run a final experiment and successfully birth a semi-human specimen. Keeping it a secret from everyone, they soon retreat away with ‘Dren’ to a remote farm house. Dren is rapidly maturing and soon becomes uncontrollable and Clive and Elsa are finally forced to face the ethical dilemma that they created.
Splice reminded me of a couple of other science ‘gone wrong’ movies. It’s not quite as campy as SPECIES but not quite as clever as THE FLY. Overall, this is an enjoyable film. There are only 7 cast members credited and you spend most of the time with just the main three. Since most of this story takes place indoors, there is an insulated, claustrophobic atmosphere that helps build the tension. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley do a fine job and are a convincing disfunctional couple. Splice also has a few nicely done ‘jumpy’ and gross out scenes. The effects and creative characterization of Dren is handled particularly well. The live action and CGI blend is almost seemless making it easy to suspend belief. She has a human vulnerability with an alien superiority.
While Splice is successful in many ways, there are some major flaws in this experiment. This movie makes an intentional shift from sci-fi thriller to horror by the latter half. It’s an evolution that I didn’t like and I think hurt the experience. Suddenly everyone stops thinking and starts running. Motivations get convoluted and multiple subplots get unraveled. Splice starts some genuinely interesting moral and ethical dilemmas but does little to resolve them. It also takes some disturbing plot twists that were probably not necessary but there for shock value (murder, rape, incest, and abuse to name a few). So many plot lines are opened up and never really resolved. Instead of trying to make an intelligent statement about the issues raised it settles for multiple chase scenes with gore to follow. It’s frustrating when a smart film turns dumb- and this one went there pretty fast. It’s a shame too because it started with so much potential but in the end it turned into a generic cautionary tale that warns against the rapid advancement of science.
With all this being said, Splice is still an above average movie. It certainly makes you feel uncomfortable in many different ways. It’s definitely not for the faint at heart especially since it takes some preserve twists near the end. So if you like movies like Species and The Fly then you might find this experiment a success- however, you might have to leave your smart brain at home. 80’s band, Oingo Boingo said it best:
From my heart and from my hand
Why don’t people understand
My intentions . . . . Oooh, weird science