Every now and then a film comes along and pushes boundaries. They leap past what the social conscious accepts and dares us to not squirm in our seats but is happy when we do. Splice is definitely one of those films. Any expectation you have for this jaw-dropping movie will surely not prepare you for what Vincenzo Natali (Cube) has in store for you.
Splice is the story of two young hip scientists, Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) who have taken the techniques of taking the genetic material of various organisms, and well, splicing them together. They hit notoriety with the media and publications because of their progressive talents. When the corporation that backs their lab experiments decides to move to “phase two” and use their creations for the use of pharmaceutical research to benefit livestock health, it decides to avoid the touchy subject of splicing human material in with the animal genes, as suggested by the young duo.
That doesn’t stop Clive and Elsa from moving forward with their secret experiment, the creation of the creature known as Dren (Delphine Chanéac). Well, that is where the insanity begins.
Forced to raise and observe the growth and life of this new creature, the couple is drawn into a world were morality is tested moment to moment and the importance for scientific discovery is weighed. We learn to find the humanity in a monster of our own creation, while reflected that there is still a thin line that separates the monsters inside ourselves from escaping.
With themes of xenophobia, child raising, lust and insanity, it is near impossible to say this film lacks any depth, that is not to say it’s very deep. The film has too many issues to juggle that it doesn’t have the time to really explore them to their fullest. Happily we’ll take a film that attempts depth and complexity and falls short than a film that doesn’t even try.
Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last January, Splice was one of the films that had festival goers in a buzz. Now released world wide, audiences can be reminded of the immense talent and proficiency Natali has for the science fiction genre before he tackles his next project, Neuromancer.
Adrien Brody (King Kong) and Sarah Polley (Dawn of the Dead) give performances that reinforce why these serious actors are considered some of Hollywood’s strongest talents. The beautiful Delphine Chanéac was presented with the tough challenge of portraying a creature of mixed genetic makeup and making us fall in love with her and fearing her at the same time; she does so with grace. We hope to see more of her in the future.
Splice take a sensitive subject such as human genetic manipulation and goes far beyond running with it, it defiles it in such a way that you will leave the theater not actually believing you witnessed the assault you just received on your retinas. But like any well-made shock factor film that actually has a decent story, you’ll be thankful you watched it.
Rated R for disturbing elements including strong sexuality, nudity, sci-fi violence and language.