It’s evident that all the teenagers in a majority of slasher films have never seen a horror movie in their lives. Why else would they make such inexplicable decisions like going down dark hallways and running upstairs when they should be running out the door? Splice centers on two scientists who have obviously never seen a movie about cloning before. If they had they’d know that cloning never results in positive outcomes. Among all the movies about human cloning though, Splice is one of the most intriguing ones.
Oscar-winner Adrien Brody and Oscar-nominee Sarah Polley play Clive and Elsa, two romantically involved scientists who have found a way to splice human DNA with animal DNA to create a new species. Of course their superiors forbid them from testing the experiment because they’ve likely seen what happens in cloning movies such as this. Nevertheless, Clive and Elsa continue with the experiment and create a half bird, half amphibian, half human creature they call Dren. Elsa immediately opens her heart to Dren and comes to regard her as the daughter she never had. Clive, on the other hand, fears they have made a catastrophic mistake.
The theatrical trailer for Splice makes the film out to look like a routine monster flick with a beast running around, bumping people off. However, there’s a lot more to the picture than one might anticipate. Dren herself is surprisingly likable and even sympathetic. She’s a character that some moviegoers might find strangely adorable while others will look at her as just repulsive. The relationship she develops with Elsa and Clive is at times reminiscent of E.T. as the humans attempt to hide Dren from the government and teach her the ways of life.
The first hour and a half of Splice is effective, intelligent and slick. The film becomes beyond nutty and inadvertently hilarious in its final act though when Clive becomes physically attracted to Dren. In an odd moment, Dren seduces Clive and the two make passionate love on a barn floor. Elsa then walks in on the two and Clive chases her out the door with his pants barely on. Seriously, I’m not making this up. Then in the last 10 minutes Splice becomes the typical slasher movie it tried so hard not to be in its exposition.
Splice is an all-together visually impressive picture with some fine performances from Brody and Polley. It’s a solid piece of entertainment with more inspired ideas than most cloning movies. While I’m certainly recommending Splice, it’s a bit of a letdown that the film had to copout with a slasher climax and a bizarre love triangle throne into the mix. Had the movie been bold enough to go down a different route we might have been looking at a science fiction/thriller classic like Alien. I’ll give the last act this though. It provides more laughs than the entirety of Marmaduke.
Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for the past five years, reviewing movies on his website, http://www.freewebs.com/radman_ns. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.