Cube’s director mixes it up, with monster results…

Splice review - What’s the worst that could happen?” says Sarah Polley’s rogue bio-geneticist, serving clear notice that something terrible is going to happen.

It’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek foreshadowing that nudges viewers to traverse the literary and cinematic history of doomed overreachers, from Pandora and Prometheus through Mary Shelley’s creator to Seth Brundle’s human porridge. Cube director Vincenzo Natali’s thoughtful indie sci-fi is a Frankenstein story in more ways than one.

Elsa and Clive (Polley and Adrien Brody, named for Bride Of Frankenstein leads Elsa Lanchester and Colin Clive) are hip, brilliant young scientists at the bleeding edge of their field, creating genetic hybrids using animal DNA. Things aren’t going how they want, so they secretly develop a new hybrid, adding human DNA to the mix. The result is Dren, a rapidly maturing female with a prehensile tail and a mind of her own. You can see where it’s going. But only some of the way.

Splice is a mongrel of ideas from the ancient to the new. Genetic engineering paranoia meets mythical chimera; the future of human evolution clashes with the Electra complex; a cure for cancer conflicts with parental responsibility. Imagine a nightmarish We Need To Talk About Frankenstein’s Monster as penned by Sophocles. Something like that. And it stands or falls on its performances.

Thankfully Polley and Brody hit the mark – she’s icily ambitious, he’s careless and easily led, both are selfish and familiar. Dren, meanwhile, is mesmerising. A seamless mix of puppetry, CGI, animatronics and actress Delphine Chanéac’s intense performance – she’s expressive without language, beautiful yet not human, intelligent, vulnerable, and at times terrifying. Like a kid with a hand grenade, she doesn’t understand the power that she holds.

A glossy sci-fi on a low budget, Splice is a mesh of body horror, family drama and hostage thriller . Though controversial in the States, this isn’t Cronenberg; it’s not gritty and no one’s knob falls off. But it’s not Species either – everyone’s culpable, no one’s to be trusted.

High production values and a fast-moving story – as well as, yes, some clunky sign-posting and iffy dialogue – at times obscure the troubling subtext. The barn. The spreading of wings...

If the film itself over-reaches, it’s in the third act – asking too much, ending too generically. Thankfully, though, it’s not enough to spoil this dense, emotionally rich cross-breed.


Impressive FX lend credibility to a pacey but cerebral sci-fi that’s not embarrassed to be entertaining. We bid that Natali’s hideous progeny go forth and prosper…

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User Reviews

    • Legacy3D

      May 7th 2011, 23:58


      Splice Review “A secret experiment will break the laws of science and create an animal human hybrid”. Splice follows Clive Nicoli (Adrian Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) two scientist who work together to mix the DNA on different animals to form new hybrids. After creating a male and female of this new hybrid race they want to use human DNA to merge with animal DNA to form a new creature and obtain results. They are successful in creating a new creature which is later known as Dren, observing there results they see Dren ages far faster than any other human and possesses human characteristics. Everything seems fine in the beginning but when changes occur in Dren they begin to see they have created a monster. Splice contains a number of themes to it which makes it difficult to select a genre. There are elements of drama because of tension shown between Clive and Elsa as to what they should do regarding Dren and their experiments. The thriller aspect of what will happen next and horror due to the final results of what Dren becomes. This means the movie feels quite crowded as there is no clear theme. Other problem the movie has is at times it is a little bland and uninteresting to watch. The effects used in creating Dren are good conserving the relative low budget this was made with. In addition Adrian brody is quite believable in his role as a scientist with his look and actions over the course of the movie. Overall Splice is lacking a few important things to make it a great movie; however it delivers well in other aspects including its Creature effects.

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