“Splice” Movie Review

Movie poster for "Splice"“Splice” suffered the same issue as its implied title character, an identity crisis that ultimately turned this film from the advertised science-fiction horror to a comedic melodrama. I’d like to say I’m a big Vincenzo Natali fan, but I’ve only seen “Cube”, which I really liked, and “Paris, je t’aime” which doesn’t exactly belong to a single director, so I’m still on loose soil when it comes to his work. I think it’s clear he has the chops to create an inventive low-budget sci-fi thriller, but perhaps he is still missing the necessary self-critical skill set to polish his writing.

Why you’ll like this:
You enjoy SyFy bunk like “Frankenfish”; you see anything with DNA splicing as a win, regardless of actual quality standards

“Splice” is about two genetic scientists, Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), who decide to push the limits of DNA engineering to a new level by creating a hybrid species that include human genes. Every step they take prompts them to see how far this experiment can go, resulting in a cognitive being (though voiceless) that has both human and animalistic features and tendencies. In an unspired moment they name the feminine creature “Dren”, not the only uninspired moment I might add.

How Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley both read this script and thought, “Yes! This is something I absolutely must be apart of!” is beyond my comprehension. I’ll grant the science-fiction aspect, since it clearly dances around with the subject matter, but the only horror found is some of the most ridiculous pieces of cinema that was tackled better in such classics as “Species” and “Species 2: Offspring”. To be fair, I haven’t seen “Species 2: Offspring”, but I’m sure it was more to the point than what we have here, mostly because it’s a clearly labeled project.

Most of the film is spent as a drama, the characters uttering awful dialogue (that’s acceptable in an actual horror film, not a drama), hemming and hawing about their huge dilemma and finding how much they care for their creation. The real thief of the cake, however, is some of the outrageous decisions that were meant to build tension and suspense but only produced laughter and guffaws. Hardly the hallmark of a sci-fi horror when your big moments are met with mockery from the audience. Not only that, but the creature loses my suspension of disbelief by betraying its physical features by the noises it emanates and its velociraptor-like head bobbing. Hey Dren, I don’t believe you!!

Why you won’t like this:
Not horror/thriller as advertised; predictable; ridiculous attempts at invoking emotion

Maybe this could have been a good product had someone wrote the script with the thought of suspending plot points that invoke eye-rolling dismissal. It is shot well, the actors are trying their hardest to emote, but someone forgot to mix in the DNA of good writing, I’m looking at you Vincenzo.

2 out of 5 stars.

Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rating: R (nudity, violence, language)
Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.
Release Date: June 4, 2010