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Splice (2010)

Starring:

Abigail Chu

Adrien BrodyAdrien Brody

Brandon McGibbon

David Hewlett

Delphine Chanéac

Sarah Polley

Simona Maicanescu

Directed by:

Vincenzo Natali

Rating: 8/10

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Splice is almost a perfect science fiction movie. Not because of the film itself, per se, but because of what it does. Don’t let those commercials that seem to want to make this look like a typical scary flick fool you—there’s so much more to be seen here, probably because it started out as an independent film in Canada and didn’t have to cater to the horror formulas of Hollywood. This is a thinker, but even with its roots in the world of science, its heart lies in probing the moral and societal quandaries of parenting, ethics, sexuality, and morality.

Clive (Adrian Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) are a pair of brilliant young scientists in love, plus they’ve managed to create a whole new animal species with the potential to right many of mankind’s genetic wrongs. They don’t stop there, though—oh no—these two secretly decide to take their creation and breed it with human DNA, leading to so many moral and ethical dilemmas you may need an Ethics textbook to keep up.

It’s been awhile since you could go to the Cineplex at the mall and see a movie that actually moved your thinking muscles. Not that Splice is some big, stuffy clunker; it moves along at a brisk pace, with plenty of action and not a lot of cumbersome science. Clive and Elsa aren’t smarty pants-type scientists, so when they make their little experiment, for a while we’re right there with them. Then their issues begin to creep in to their “raising” of Dren, and … well … you’ll see. Everything is explained in ways that, though improbable, may not be impossible, so the narrative never gets too bogged down in proving its own theories. Performances are spot on throughout—Brody nails every one of Clive’s doubts and issues with “Dren,” and even when he goes places both inevitable and repulsive, we still somehow can’t completely turn on him. Polley is excellent as well, and her Elsa conveys an intelligence and slightly manic madness that adds a layer of unreliable narrator to the story. The real star of this show, though, is Delphine Chanéac as Dren. With a minimal (for the task at hand) use of CG and no dialogue save for animal-like clicks and coos, Chanéac creates a fully realized character who seems more human, at times, than her “creators”—which, I suppose, might be the point.

Splice isn’t for everyone, and it’s not as if this whole Frankenstein-motif is new to anyone, but there’s something to be said for a movie that has the guts to be both thoughtful and very, very disturbing. Cheers to writer/director Vincenzo Natali for pushing the envelope and doing it up right.

It's Got: Moral dilemmas, Great performances, A very memorable Dren

It Needs: Audiences to come in prepared for anything

Alternatives:

Frankenstein, Mimic, Species

Summary

Somehow, in a mainstream US market that likes its genre films to be in space and its summer films to blow things up, Splice is able to make us think, gross us out, and even scare us a little.

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