116 of 129 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2010
STARRING: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac and Brandon McGibbon
WRITTEN BY: Vincenzo Natali
DIRECTED BY: Vincenzo Natali
Genre: Science Fiction / Thriller
Release Date: 04 June 2010
Review Date: 12 July 2010
I'm not exactly sure why I liked Splice, but I did. Even so, I won't be recommending it to anyone I don't know closely, because it's out there and isn't what most people will be expecting - especially based on its trailer.
If you're envisioning Species, you may be let down. If you're thinking Alien; you could be disappointed. It does however; lie somewhat in-between those two great films. And it's also sprinkled with a hint of the sort of family drama you'd find in The Jerry Springer show. I know - I just lost half of you there, didn't I? Still interested? Okay, keep reading.
Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley play Clive and Elsa; scientists as well as lovers. We quickly move on and accept that their employers are either blind to the fact, or don't seem to care that they are beyond fraternizing. A good deal of the film rests on the shoulders of the merit of their relationship, and their on-screen allure makes those portions believable as well as entertaining; mostly by Adrien Brody. He's such a likeable guy, and a terrific actor.
I'll admit Splice takes it's time getting to the point, but I was never bored with it. The - `two characters in a room for prolonged periods of time' approach was handled with care; and there is a very subtle hint of `what the hell is gonna happen?' - teasing those hairs on the back of our necks for the first 30 minutes or so.
After advisors shut down their project, Clive and Elsa secretly push forward with their experiment of splicing animal and human DNA. There must be some kind of strict Hollywood code in Sci-Fi movies, that forces the writers to script the purpose for DNA splicing to involve `the better of mankind', because it's seems like that's always the reason. It is here too.
If you're not asleep by the end of act one, you may enjoy seeing the creature Clive and Elsa have well... spliced. I've certainly never seen anything like it, and was astronomically impressed. A blend of some barely visible CGI and beautiful make-up effects and voila; an original movie monster at last! The actress they hire to play the thing soon named Dren (Delphine Chaneac), does an amazing job at making her convincing, interesting and somehow even slightly attractive.
If you think you can predict where this film is headed, you may be surprised. It is essentially three films in one; each act taking a sharp turn into something else. Several viewers will despise the third act entirely. While it wasn't my first choice of destinations for the film to take me to, I wouldn't say I had the worst time with it.
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
When I saw the preview for Splice, the first thing that came to my mind was that the movie looked like kind of a rip-off of that 1995 movie Species that Natasha Henstridge walks around in half naked. And while there are indeed some major similarities between Splice and Species, I think that Splice Director Vincenzo Natali actually had another movie in mind when he wrote this movie.
Back in the early 1930s if you were to play God and try to create life how would you do it? We'll, you'd do some grave robbing and try to bring back the dead with a little lightening, right? How else? Because cloning and gene splicing in the 30s was a concept as distant as an iPhone. It's so much easier today. Just take some animal DNA and mix it with a little human DNA, throw it in a Petri dish, incubate, let sit then voilà. It's alive....It's alive!!!
Splice's Dr. Frankensteins are Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley respectfully as Clive and Elsa. (Get it? Colin Clive played the original Dr. Frankenstein and Elsa Lanchester was 1935's Bride.) Clive and Elsa are geneticists and they create their own Frankenstein and call her Dren. Being only half human, Dren has some superior physical powers and--who knew?--introduce a little animal (or bird?) DNA to a human sample and you get a more intelligent being as well. So look out: a stronger, intelligent life form could be hazardous to your health.
I'm surprised that there are so many 1 star reviews for Splice on this page, because the movie isn't really that bad at all. Sure the movie deals with controversial topics, and Dren gets down and dirty with her makers in both a consenting (bestiality?) and non-consenting (rape) way. But questionable opinions and hard to watch sex scenes aside, I was entertained by Splice. There are times when you'll hear yourself saying, "That would never happen," or "No one would ever really do that," but the movie never gets boring.
Splice is certainly no Frankenstein classic, but it is a pretty good Sci-fi flick and I'd recommend it to any fan of the genre.
52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
The best horror films don't merely provide lots of gore and bloodletting, but tap into the primal fears of human beings, as well as the darkest parts of human nature. "Splice" does just that.
Audience reactions seem to be mixed to "Splice", and it's easy to see why. "Splice" is really more of an art film that has more in common with David Cronenberg's films than mainstream horror fare like the "Saw" franchise. The film even stars Sarah Polley, an indie film fixture.
Polley plays Elsa, who, along with her husband and fellow geneticist Clive (Adrian Brody), create a human/animal hybrid in secret, who they later name Dren ("nerd" spelled backwards, a cute way of the two embracing their science geek status). As in all horror films, playing with mother nature turns out to have disastrious consequences.
Although films have long been using this basic plot that goes all the way back to "Frankenstein," what elevates "Splice" is its great script and acting. Elsa and Clive's relationship, which is both collaborative and competitive, facilitates the whole nightmare, as well as Elsa's tragic backstory as an abused, rural kid.
What steals the show, however, is Dren. The film manages to make the creature both childlike, animalistic, and freakishly sexual, which is not only disarming for the audience, but leads to the disturbing plot developments in the film's controversial last act.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2011
On the cutting edge of science, things are now becoming possible that used to be only the province of tales like Dr. Moreau and Frankenstein. And in the highly authentic-feeling "Splice", the central question is, as it has been in many great tales from at least "Frankenstein" onward: with this power, will humanity be able to distinguish between the issues of "what can and can't be done" and "what Should and Shouldn't" be done?
Two scientists, excellently played by Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody, are in the field of splicing genes from different species into one another to create new lifeforms. Though there's a question right and there about ethics, at least the motivations are noble - trying to find cures from disease through new biochemicals, etc. There's a striking but believable self-contradiction in the main characters right there: though they seem attached and even, at times, almost parental in their feelings toward these hybrids, they have no emotional or ethical objection against just how they use these creatures in pursuit of their goals, or in disposing of them when it comes to that. It's when the pair goes against all guidelines and laws by adding human DNA into the mix that things get taken to a much higher level.
The result of the human-animal splice is Dren, a strange little creature that in its infancy appears alternately comical and deadly. The researchers are initially prepared to destroy the hybrid - they never intended to let it get past the stage of an early embryo, then destroy it there and research the remains. But among Dren's wonderous physical properties is a phenomenally fast growth rate, and by its birth that growth rate is already spinning things out of control. Finding themselves unable to kill a newborn hybrid with human DNA and some human characteristics, they hide Dren's existance from their peers and begin to study her. They bond quickly with Dren, with Polley's character first assuming a distinctly mother-like role to the fast-growing Dren. As Dren grows, she becomes extremely intelligent, and the bonds within the group start to take on very disturbing overtones.
Like the Frankenstein creation, Dren - who contains not only human DNA but genes from a whole battery of creatures including scorpions, birds, amphibians, and heaven knows what else - is both the movie's "monster" and its victim. The horror escalates - not in a "the world's going to end tomorrow" kind of way, but in a manner that sees everything going to hell in a handbasket within the main group of characters, and slowly starting to spiral out to those around them. Among the movie's most potent fright weapons is the disturbingly plausible feeling it has - that eventually, somebody, somewhere, will go and do something like this, if for no other reason than to prove that they can. And that the results might be just as unpredictable and ghastly as they are here.
Great special effects and a plot that takes classic themes and moves them into even more twisted territory add to the whole. Great movie, nine out of ten.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2011
I grew up with a Sci-Fi imagination and read the genre to escape the realities of adolescence. I collect films in every genre but "horror" (which I consider thinly veiled "snuff porn" sold to an only-too-eager audience).
My response to "Splice" is unique. I had to shut my eyes through several difficult and uncomfortable moments. Also, I believe all the 1-star and 5-star reviews are accurate. However, it seems clear that the real difference in these two extremes is in how reviewers process their discomfort.
If you are in the habit of rejecting everything that makes you uncomfortable, you won't like the film inspite of the good acting, writing, direction, and production values. On the other hand, if you are intrigued by seeing things you never quite imagined, you will like the film but be unclear about why because it also made you uncomfortable.
As someone interested in science's impact on society, the most intriguing thing I can offer about this film is that it will take you somewhere inside yourself that a sci-fi flick doesn't often take you, and you will either hate the thing that took you there, or be intrigued by it.
Yes, this film uses easily-recognized devices to elicit this emotion or that. Yes, the acting and writing are way above average for the genre. Yes, this film is creepy... but, unlike lesser efforts, it is also restrained in this regard. Yes, it has "sequel" written all over it (which, if it has the same writer/director and female lead, would be a potentially good thing).
However, what I appreciated most about this movie was the flawed, human context in which scientists are scientists and do science. Their (and our) hubris underlying some of what they have done (atomic, chemical, and biological weapons), and what some of them are only too eager to do in the future (splice together human and non-human DNA) is breath-taking. And, of course, what scenario would be complete without one bright, ambitious moran saying to another, "If we don't do it, someone with fewer moral scrupples will."
Interestingly, this film also has an element of Biblical Eve in it. Just as in Richard Kelly's "The Box," it is the woman (in the case of "the Box," the women) who finds it impossible NOT to cross a recognized moral/ethical line, and is udderly determined to defy the significant male in her life in order to do so. "Splice" goes further by suggesting that this gender-specific trait will survive the splicing of human and non-human genes.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2013
The movies that get made are about 99% the same. I don't mean Star Wars == Fight Club, but Star Wars is very much a Samurai flick and Fight Club's twist has been so overdone for a while I dreaded watching thrillers. It all comes down to formula, and there are a few, which is probably more evident to me as I was just trying to find a generally known film to name against Star Wars that doesn't share the same features.
This is a film that doesn't operate solely on what you see, rather it is based on the characters' character. Their ego is played against their flaws and their identity against their desires. The two main characters are Clive and Elsa, both highly regarded scientists working on (or in fact beyond) the forefront of their field which is genetic engineering. For reasons that are never fully explained (though heavily implied) they create a genetic sequence including human DNA, which clearly is a taboo issue. Things play out as they must for this to get started and although you constantly expect at least Clive to do the right (necessary) thing, this is a 104 minute film, and because you saw the trailers, you know he's not going to.
The first hour of the movie is generally tense as you don't know how things are going to evolve and you are constantly expecting something to go terribly wrong and it does, but you'll have to watch it. This is all very skillfully done and if you've seen Natali's earlier movie Cube, it follows a very similar development arc.
After that hour a lot of things become quite clear, and then there is the finale, and that's an experience onto itself.
What makes Splice special are a few things:
1) The characters feel alive. I don't mean they are well acted (which they are) but rather that they have an existence outside the movie plot itself. This doesn't feel like it is a gimmick (and it should not be anyway) but works in well with the story.
2) The movie doesn't linger, instead it constantly progresses through what it is trying to convey. At no point do you feel it is spending time on something, rather it does what it needs to without outstaying its welcome.
3) It is topical without being preachy, it does make some statements about corporate motives and such, but as already mentioned it doesn't linger, and when it makes them, it is in the context of the story. As for the evils of genetic engineering, that doesn't float as a topic, rather it is about the human element in this.
4) At no point do you feel that science is being manipulated / simplified to fit the story, the way I find grating when IT is portrayed. That said, I don't know about genetic engineering and scientists might cringe, though what's shown on screen presents a good visual analogue for what is happening. Sure, it is simplified, but it doesn't feel dreadfully so. More importantly though, the science is part of the setting rather than the plot, and the story is about human factors more than science. It should be mentioned here, IF it were about cold, hard and unfeeling science, this probably would not play out as it does, but no one wants to see that movie.
So let's look at the flaws. The movie is not for everyone, there is nothing I can point to as being "bad", except some hollow statements about Dren's visual evolution, and the Elsa character being entirely unlikeable, some of it will make sense in the long run, but some facets are not explained especially one statement Clive makes which really left me hanging. My main problem is the ethics are too blatantly ignored. Essentially, the plot is just a little too convenient to get started, though once again without this there would be no film.
In conclusion, this is a creature horror flick, that feels intense pretty much all the way through. It works on a few levels, with things that are happening existing in a whole world rather than just the movie. There are no "convenient" surprises, and you will consider some of the facets for a while. If you can take the tension and want something that will give you something to think about, this is a movie to try.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2012
I rather liked most of this film, with the exception of last 10 minutes, which were very weak and disappointing.
I believe that it is hardly a SPOILER to say, that this film is basically about two genetists, Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), colleagues, friends and lovers, who, after facing budget cuts decide to make an illegal experiment, by cloning a chimera made of a mixture of DNA from a human, animals and the DNA of a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), a kind of huge worm, which they earlier (legally) created. The result of this illegal experiment will be a facinating quasi-human intelligent creature, a little girl, which with time, for reasons you have to discover yourself, they will call Dren (Delphine Chaneac). Some more limited SPOILERS ahead.
Maybe it is because I have myself two young children, but rather than the SciFi elements I immediately rather focused on the child they brought to the world and what would become of her. Because they are afraid of consequences and still not certain if they will allow Dren to even live, Clive and Elsa hide her - and therefore ipso facto they keep her prisoner. Therefore, as far as my personal perception is concerned, this film is mostly about a little girl who was denied her childhood and who suffers for a extended period continuous abuse from her "parents" - or maybe rather should we call them her "abductors"?
This is a sad film and a sad story and although Clive and Elsa try to bring some light into Dren's life, she nevertheless still lives in a prison, locked and watched by her gaolers. Being different from humans, she grows fast and as she enters the adolescence, she finally starts to rebel - as all adolescents do. And because of what she is, she has tools to rebel as no other adolescents have...
This film is also a kind of study in double, mutual entrapment, because exactly as Dren is being kept under lock by her "parents", they are also stuck with her... Vincenzo Natali, who earlier made the quite impressive "Cube", leads this story very skillfully for almost the whole duration of the film and he rather intelligently describes Dren's late teens rebellion until a breaking point is reached and she severs her emotional links first with her "mother" and then, even more radically, with her "father". This liberation and coming of age (showed in a very Freudian scene between Dren and Clive) is quite beautifully symbolized by her deploying of wings... This final rebellion is also a punishment inflicted to both Clive and Elsa for their cowardly failure to provide the necessary love and care to the child they brought into this world...
Sadly, at that moment the director took the film in the completely wrong direction and as the result, what could be a very honest SciFi philosphical tale, crashed and exploded in flames. The last 10 minutes of the film are horribly bad and do not make the slightest sense, at least as far as my personal taste is concerned. This is the reason, why I think this film desserves only three stars.
But still, I do not regret that I watched it, as it has many touching moments and for most of its duration it is quite good. And it certainly touched me and made me think many times since about this little strange looking girl with a tail, living her sad, lonely existence locked in basements and barns. About Dren, who never got a chance...
20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2010
Adrien Brody is one of those actors that can go either way for me. He stands alone as one of the best if you are judging him from his performance in the Pianist. Alternatively, he is starring in the upcoming Predators, which has not been released at the time of ts writing but is fairly reasonable to assume will not be critically well received. Splice stands somewhere in the middle, not award-winning material but something which is virtually guaranteed a cult following. Brody plays a scientist who specializes in splicing DNA, who along with his partner and lover, played by Sarah Polley, fresh off their success with two blob like creatures named Fred and Ginger, decide to splice human DNA with that of a variety of animals. Well, it's really her idea but Adrien Brody's lax, nervous character does not choose to stop her.
The result is a sack of gelatinous material, an egg sack bearing a creature which the pair names Dren (nerd backwards, get it?). Dren is at first something resembling a weasel, and despite Brody's character Clivr's multiple protests of keeping it alive, Polley's character convinces him that the creature will age remarkably quickly and that it will be dead soon enough.when zdren is tee height of a five year old, they put her in a dress and the audience begins to empathize with her as a mostly human character, relatable in a bizarre way.
As Dren matures the scientists encounter problems with her breathing, her size, her behavior among a whole host of others. Eventually an almost fully mature Dren is moved to an abandoned barn owned by Polley's family. Here is where the film finds it's voice as we watch this alien mature and begin to question her position in the world. The character is tragic because the question begins to emerge: is it right to make a life purely for science?
The flaws if Splice are twofold, Sarah Polley turns in an at best mediocre performance with occasionally ridiculous motivations. Brody carries the film, despite the fact that the lack of assertiveness his character practically exudes is sickening. Finally, the film takes a needlessly violent turn in the last fifteen minutes that steps too far from the subtle base established for the majority of the film. And without spoiling anything, there is a stupidly gory scene in the middle of the film not involving Dren at all.
Within the picture this film paints, it's flaws are minimal at best. It carries a fairly high recommendation from me if you can stomach blood and playing with the laws of nature.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2010
Splice is for the most part a fresh and original story idea for a horror film that sets itself apart from the many sequels and remakes to have come out in recent years. The film's premise and themes deal with tampering with nature and the fears and controversies behind biogenetic engineering. Similar themes to classic stories such as Frankenstein only with more recent technology and sciences. The film's premise is about two genetic engineers Clive(Adrien Brody) and Elsa(Sarah polley)combining the genes of many different animal species with a human to make a new type of hybrid species. The couple raise their creation named Dren as if were their own child. Dren grows at a rate much faster than normal species and first seems human in nature. However as she grows her animalistic traits start to kick in and she slowly turns on the couple.
This film starts out somewhat slow but picks up pace and moves along faster as it progresses. Splice also offers some shocking and controversial sequences that might be disturbing to some. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley give decent performances and are convincing enough in their roles. Actress Delphine Chaneac probably gives the best performance of the film. Being commited enough with the production to shave her hair off(similar to Natalie Portman in V For Vendetta) and convincingly uses non-verbal acting as her character Dren doesn't speak in any point of the movie. The special effects and makeup used in the movie are sufficient enough and the cgi baby dren or her added on limbs don't come across as fake as many films with cgi effects do. Overall this is a creative and original above average Science Fiction Horror film. One of the better theatrical horror films to come out this year.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2011
Dren was cute in a freaky way at the beginning because she looked like a raw chicken with legs, throwing all her food and goo around. The first scene with the cat got me a little worried because I thought she was going to eat it like she did that rabbit. But turned out she just wanted a pet to cuddle. The later scene with the cat got me a little sad because it got stung/poisoned to death. Then there was a SLAP to the FACE and I thought Elsa was going to be killed next. But Dren let up and stole the key to get outside. She got shovel'd upside the head by Elsa. A few moments later we she her on a table because Elsa decided it was best to remove Dren's stinger. Later doing a sex scene with Clive, Dren's stinger grows back, just as Elsa walks in on both of them. Super awkward moment there! To me it felt humorous the movie had sex scenes with some kind of human/animal hybrid. I did think at some point Dren would learn to actually speak in complete sentences but I guess not. The last bit of the movie involves Dren becoming a monster bat-like creature killing all your men and raping all your women. Because of this Elsa gets pregnant and plan to let this monster baby be born.
One scene I forgot was the demonstration of Fred and Ginger, two earlier creatures Clive and Elsa created. They went crazy and started killing each other, causing the display case to shatter, throwing glass and blood all over the people in the front row. Too bad for them, huh?