The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Splice

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The latest sci fi horror thriller, Splice, is yet another one of those cautionary tales reminding us that is never a good thing to mess with mother nature as it always seems to lead to disaster. We've seen that idea played out numerous times in horror films dating back to Frankenstein's monster, The Fly, and the list goes on.

This time, writer/director Vincenso Natali (1997's cult sci fi classic Cube) borrows from the early works of horror master David Cronenberg, with added elements reminiscent of Species, Jurassic Park and even Rosemary's Baby, but like the genetic experiment in this film, the story goes awry to the point of absurd silliness. It is never a good sign when the audience breaks out into laughter at scenes that are meant to be serious. That's too bad, because Splice starts out interesting, but around the half way mark takes a downward turn and keeps spiraling to its inevitable and predictable conclusion that I could see coming a mile away.

Academy Award winning actor, Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley (writer/director of her Academy award nominated Away From Her) star as biochemists/live in lovers Clive Natoli and Elsa Klast (a wink to another horror master, Clive Barker and Elsa Lanchester, who played The Bride of Frankenstein) who work for a big pharmaceutical company experimenting with splicing genes from a mix of animal species to create hybrids with the potential for curing human diseases. Things get complicated, to say the least, when defying orders, and unbeknownst to Clive, Elsa secretly decides to take the experiment to the next level by injecting her own human DNA into the process.

Before I go on, let me back track. From an early conversation between the couple we learn that Clive loves Elsa and is ready to have a child. Elsa doesn't want any kids as she states pregnancy would take a toll on her body, not that she doesn't have other emotional issues since there are suggestions of her troubled childhood and an abusive mother. All this figures into the scenario after the hybrid creature is “born”, named Dren (“nerd” spelled backwards) and secretly raised in the lab. The result at first looks like a hairless chicken with a face of a cute childlike creature (at this stage played by Abigail Chu).

Elsa's maternal instincts kick in and she forms a controlling parental bond with her “daughter”, though initially Clive wants to kill what he deems a monster before he has a change of heart. As an adult, Dren (played convincingly with a mix of sweetness, vulnerability and evil by French newcomer Delphine Chaneac, who bears a striking resemblance to Islandic singer Bjork) has transformed into an alluring being with a pretty humanlike face, birdlike legs, amphibious lungs, retractable wings, and long tail with poisonous tip. Though intelligent, she can't talk, but spews out occasional squeaks and chirps,and communicates using letters from a game of Scrabble. To no surprise, she also has some dangerous physical abilities which will rear its ugly head. It would be fitting to call her a "Scary Splice Girl". 
 
Fearing Dren will be discovered, and in protective parental mode, Clive and Elsa decide its time to move Dren to a more“safe” place, Elsa's childhood farm house, hidden away in the woods where things take a rapid turn for the worse, on a personal as well as moral, ethical and scientific level.

Clive's plan to destroy Dren is shortlived once her female hormones come into play and a lustful attraction towards her "Daddy" eventually turns mutual. Need I say what happens next. Unfortunately, the story disintegrates into a turn off of a deviant sexual nature that is pornographic if not silly, weird and laughable; hence the aforementioned reaction from the audience.

It's not all bad. The actors do the best with their material. The CGI creature effects are superb, and there are moments of pure horror without the usual heavy amount of blood and gore.

Splice had the potential for being a really good sci fi thriller, but sadly winds up being a horror story that goes terribly wrong. And yet, at the conclusion, the door is left open with the seed being planted for a sequel. Yes, that's not only a hint. Take it as a warning.