Sundance Film Festival Review: Splice

by Whitney Borup

“There are some things you do not do!” This should be the tagline for “Splice,” director Vincenzo Natali’s genetic splicing sci-fi-horror film. Scientist couple Clive and Elsa never seem to accept any moral boundaries, though, and end up with an human hybrid on their hands that they don’t quite know what to do with. Or rather, they both have ideas about what to do with their new pet, and none of them are palatable.

After successfully splicing the genetics of a cluster of random animals, Elsa and Clive realize that they can go further with their new technology. Splicing the DNA of a human with God-knows what else, they make a creature they affectionately call “DREN.” Natali affectively uses both CGI and makeup to create a monstrous female, with equally monstrous desires. What exactly is DREN? What will she become? And how will her adoptive parents manage to control her??

“Splice” starts off strong. There are some fantastically gory moments early on that drag you into the plot and leave you suspended for the rest of the film. There are also some genuinely funny jokes early in the film delivered by Brody and Polley playing it deadpan. The problem is, the film only gets funnier…and I don’t know if it’s meant to. Things get too disturbing. Things get too insane. And whether or not Natali intended us to, the audience was rolling on the floor laughing during the most pivotal scenes.

This is a film that has to be seen to be believed. I think it might obtain instant cult status upon its release, despite – or maybe because – of the tone confusion. Whatever ideological problems the film possesses at its core (particularly, what it ultimately has to say about the inherent nature of gender), it’s quite an experience.

Splice

Directed: Vincenzo Natali
Written: Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor
Starring: Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley
Canada, 100 min.

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