Splice review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
Splice is a grotesque live feature directed by Vincenzo Natali, and starring Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chanéac in the main roles. The film is about a genetically manufactured/engineered creature which becomes more than meets the eye and, as these things go, turns against its creators in a scenario that just can’t end well for everyone involved – especially the people in the white coats. All of this sounds good on paper, but the pacing of the film and editing both feel somewhat off, while the story is incoherent at best and muddled at its worst; that isn’t to say that Splice is a bad film, but rather it’s a film that I don’t think I’m quite getting.
The film starts by showcasing the brilliance of two genetic scientists, Clive and Elsa, as they try to “produce” an intelligent biological creature in order to cure already existing diseases in the world (a recipe for sci-fi disaster, I know). Their first attempts are fruitless, however they alter manage to “splice” the DNA of several other animals and produce a living, breathing hybrid for, as they refer to, “research purposes”. And this is where the sci-fi part ends and the bizarre part of the film slowly creeps its way into place. Note: by this time in the film, the creature is female, so keep that in mind.
Dren (the hybrid’s name) has a very strong appetite and is actively growing to the amazement of both Elsa and Clive. But, since their experiment has been deemed too dangerous (and costly) to proceed, all funding has been cut and further activity ceased by their employers. However, to the stubbornness of the two, they decide to relocate Dren to a safe place since they can’t keep it in the lab anymore. Some of the colleagues become suspicious, but no one dares to venture further into these two’s twisted experiments, and so they get successfully get away. So far, so good.
Then the screenplay decides that Clive should have sex with Dren and this is where all sci-fi logic transmutes into a bizarre fest of changing genders, newborn hybrids, bestiality and betrayals (since Clive is also Elsa’s boyfriend, albeit in a rocky relationship), and an ultimate incoherence of story and plot. You heard that right, Clive has sex with Dren, but then Dren changes its gender and becomes a male. Granted, this is after it has coital relationship with Clive, but still, what the heck Vincenzo? And it’s not like this is important to the plot (i.e. happens organically), but it feels rather forced, illogical, and downright bizarre. Then again, Italian horror has perhaps always been this way?
Ultimately, Splice is the most originally bizarre piece of cinema that doesn’t involve gore that you can see – so hurry and do that before it becomes the film becomes a cult classic.