Caution: Some spoilers ahead!
It’s been a while since my last science fiction movie, so in preparation for this one I decided to conduct my own scientific experiment.
Step 1 – Ask a question:
“Is this movie any good?”
Step 2 – Do background research:
June 4, 2010. Visited Rotten Tomatoes. Movie is standing at around 70%. Chances are likely that it won’t be terrible.
Step 3 – Construct a Hypothesis:
If I watch this movie, having little or no foreknowledge of it, I may be pleasantly surprised.
Step 4 – Test Hypothesis by Conducting Experiment:
View movie. Materials required: popcorn, carbonated beverage, and sugary snacks.
Step 5 – Analyze Data and Draw a Conclusion:
Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) are brilliant, romantically involved geneticists who have gene-spliced together a completely new life-form, one that creates proteins useful for [lucrative venture] making someone an obscene amount of money. Clive and Elsa hope to continue the research that would eventually allow them to completely eradicate certain genetic defects among humans, but their parent company is more interested in creating [some lucrative product]. When faced with the imminent corporate restructuring of their lab, they decide to push their scientific and ethical envelopes one last time by creating an embryo spliced from the combination of human DNA and the DNA of their other creations. When the embryo comes to term after an extremely accelerated gestation, Clive and Elsa find themselves taking divergent paths of scientific study and personal gain.
The little creature still exhibits an accelerated growth pattern and quickly grows from something that looks like a baby sea lion with chicken legs into an adorable little girl with chicken legs. Dren, as she is named, fulfills Elsa’s latent desire to be a mother, and Elsa is unable to remain scientifically dispassionate toward the little girl; however, Clive is still unsure what to do about the “specimen”. Locked away in the basement of the lab, child-Dren grows up into a beautiful young woman (Delphine Chanéac), whose only interactions are with her creators/parents. When her discovery by the laboratory’s manager seems unavoidable, Clive and Elsa sneak Dren out of the facility to Elsa’s childhood home, a remote farm tucked away on an X-files locale, complete with deserted house, creepy woods and all.
Here on the farm, the relationship between Clive, Elsa, and Dren changes and the movie shifts direction, from science fiction to psychological thriller/horror. If there are right and wrong actions to every situation, Clive and Elsa choose the wrong action virtually every time, with increasingly horrific results. Dren is caught between the two scientists and their malfunctioning moral compasses, locked away, and at the mercy of her own under-developed, human emotions and animal nature. The latter half of the movie expands its topics from science and ethics to those of cruelty, abuse, sex, violence, and murder. The question “What’s the worst that could happen?” is answered in graphic detail.
Step 6 – Communicate Your Results:
Like Dren, Splice is a hybrid creation. It’s not entirely horror, or completely science fiction, or even entirely original. It doesn’t have a clear cut protagonist, so there are no heroes here – every character in this movie has some serious issues. Where it stands up is in the character interaction between a weak-willed Clive, an increasingly unpredictable Elsa, and a mostly innocent Dren. Characters aren’t developed as much as they are revealed (in Clive’s and Elsa’s characters) or deliberately inhibited (in Dren’s character). It creates tension and builds momentum in the first act, stalls a little in the second, and builds to a climax in the third, but regrettably falls apart in the last few moments.
Despite all of that, I enjoyed it. I went it knowing little about the plot and I managed to avoid even a single trailer, so the visual effects were compelling and fresh. The subject matter is mature, and not for everyone. It’s certainly not with flaws (lack of focus, moments of disbelief, unnecessary violence), but at the end of the day it was worth seeing.
Hypothesis: confirmed. It wasn’t pleasant, but I was surprised. I give it 3 out of 5 Babbles.