Splice crept into cinemas earlier this year well out of reach of most cinema-goer’s radars. Tackling some unsettling scientific ethics as well as grappling some thorny moral issues it offers an engrossing and, rather uniquely, fresh story that sets it apart from most other recent cinematic releases.
When Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) successfully create new life forms (in the guise of the rather slug-like Fred and Ginger) that promise to provide all kinds of medical advancements they are mere steps away from splicing human and animal DNA together. After their proposals are spurned by their bosses in favour for a more money-earning line of work however they find their curiosity winning against their ethical ties and soon they are bought face-to-face with a life form well beyond that of either Fred or Ginger.
In fighting against their financial backers Clive and Elsa inadvertently create Dren (cleverly being the word ‘nerd’ backwards). Inexplicably fast, incredibly intelligent and sporting her very own wings and venomous tail, Dren is, in tone with the film, rather creepy. Sure to make viewers unsettled, Dren physically embodies the moral questions science poses to our society. Being just the right balance between human and animal to be uncomfortably close to home yet worryingly animalistic, Dren’s existence questions the morality of human interference with natural evolution. She also has to come to terms with the pains of growing up pretty fast.
The relationship formed between Dren and her creators grows increasingly harrowing whilst one of the film’s later twists regarding this relationship is fairly evident from the off (just in case you can’t see it coming a mile off we’ll leave it as a surprise). When her growing fascination with Clive takes an unexpected turn the film’s characters begin to cross lines that should never be crossed and, in turn, open an interesting scientific can of worms.
Although some of the film’s CGI is merely okay (alas the film awakens the armchair critic in all of us, too accustomed are we with the big-budget effects used in Hollywood blockbusters) Splice uses its effects nicely and convincingly. From the well-crafted intro (that cleverly uses X Rays to introduce the film’s themes as well as naming the film’s actors) to the shocking ending that turns the once intriguing film into a jaw-dropping horror movie, Splice is a beautifully paced film that will manage to surprise and exceed most expectations.
Some of the acting may be slightly amiss and its content not always optimised Splice is nonetheless an incredibly thought-provoking attempt to splice together romance and tragedy, discovery and loss. Testing the three’s-a-crowd principle in new scientific ways it may sometimes feel a bit too close to truth but makes for absorbing (if a little disturbing) viewing.
Best bit: When Dren suddenly sprouts wings
Best line: (whilst watching an ovum being inseminated) ‘Fuck!’ … ‘Exactly.’
Delphine Chanéac, who plays Dren, shaved her head for the role.