In many ways I would probably agree with director Vincenzo Natali that ‘Splice’ is a re-working of the Frankenstein myth. Only instead of revitalising dead flesh with electricity, this time it’s with recombinant DNA to create a new life-form. Although it produces a male and female slug-like creatures, none of this hermaphrodite nonsense, that are initially lovey-dovey towards each other. For scientists Clive (actor Adrien Brody) and Elsa (actress Sarah Polley) this is a major breakthrough but neither of them like being taken off their experiment to other work and they grow another culture away from their bosses. Unknowing to Clive, Elsa includes some of her own DNA into the DNA soup but neither of them anticipate its rapid growth into first a two-legged tailed creature and then into a girl-like creature and finally a young intelligence adult which is named Dren (the reverse spelling of ‘nerd’ on Elsa’s tee-shirt in case you didn’t know). They have to move Dren away from the laboratory before an audit to Elsa’s abandoned old home out in the sticks when it is possible she might be discovered.
The demonstration to the public of the two slugs goes disastrously wrong when they attack each other and it turns out that the female had become a male and had seen her mate as a rival. Clive and Elsa’s esteem obviously goes down to their boss, William Barlow (actor David Hewlett), not helped when the later stays away to tend to Dren.
Dren’s requirements are odd. She needs to spend some time underwater and can grow feathered wings and can fly when in danger. Despite Elsa keeping her on a special diet, she is shocked that Dren likes raw rabbit when she briefly escapes.
In many ways, Dren is very much like a little girl but her rapid growth through adolescence ultimately sees Elsa as a rival for Clive and begins to manipulate the pair of them and showing traits similar to the slug-like creatures. Any more, you’ll have to watch the film
Whether it is the scripting or just a means to propel the plot, you would have thought both scientists would have realised that Dren would have acted like her slug-like cousins and been better prepared for the changes that were likely to happen. On consideration, I suppose had the thought occurred to them that they would have thought it would only have applied had there been two members of the same species, except Elsa added her own DNA. Maybe both of them ended up being too close to their experiment.
In some respects, Dren’s closest comparison is to Sil from the ‘Species’ films as both have rampant sex hormones and eager to share them around. Actress Delphine Chanéac, who plays the adult Dren, does an interesting performance and its obvious why they imparted so much of her into her CGI counterpart.
The three extras practically mount up to another ninety minutes of material, looking behind the scenes, interviews with cast and crew and with director Natali and giving some insight into how low budget they really were.
Would it happen in real life? Probably not, mostly because there are far too many precautions in keeping such cells from an outside environment, although give Natali his due, he does allow this into the script and one should always be careful with corporate laboratories who are more interested in a final product than what the research is intended for.
Although in some respects it doesn’t take a genius to work out some of the conclusion and indeed the possibility for a sequel, ‘Splice’ will keep your eyes to the screen, Whether you think it’s horror or Science Fiction or somewhere in between, only you can decide but I found it a though-provoking film of caution.
(region 2 DVD: pub: Optimum Home OPTD1755. 100 minute movie with extras. Price: about £ 3.00 if you know where to look)
cast: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac, Abigail Chu, Brandon McGibbon and David Hewlett
check out website: www.optimumreleasing.com