A Little Splice of Heaven
Splice is the story of Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), two rock-n-roll genetic scientists who spend their time splicing animal DNA together to create The Wuzzles. Their current work revolves around a pair of amorphous blobs named Fred and Ginger. The slugs hold the secret to an enzyme that will make money for the corporation backing Clive and Elsa’s genetic research, but the pair mostly exists to foreshadow events involving the other, shapelier creature.
Perhaps because all of their Fuzors look like lima beans, the scientists grow disinterested in their animal interlacing and decide to mix some human DNA into the recipe. That should spice up their splice! Before embarking on a montage of test tube shaking, frustrated looks and computer fail messages; the scientists agree to abort their experiment before it reaches full term. They totally promise. Cross my heart and hope to die (foreshadowing).
Shockingly things don’t go according to plan and the scientists end up with a bouncing baby tadpole. The creature rapidly evolves (into a velociraptor) and eventually resembles a human with funny bird legs. Although Elsa had agreed the experiment would never go this far, she forbids Clive from destroying it. Clive bends to Elsa’s will since he’s just happy to have found a girl that will let him keep a 5-foot Munny in their bedroom.
When a presentation featuring Fred and Ginger goes awry, the corporation funding Clive and Elsa’s work steps in and takes over the laboratory. Fearing that someone will discover the creature (now named Dren; nerd backwards), they decide to move her to Elsa’s convenient farmhouse that belonged to her mom, who Elsa doesn’t like for some reason and is also dead.
Once at the farm house, Clive teaches Dren how to dance and Elsa gives her a low-cut dress and does her makeup. At this point in the story, the movie itself begins to evolve. What began as a sci-fi, monster popcorn flick has shifted into a family drama. Elsa and Clive are not happy in their relationship and Dren feels like her parents are smothering her by keeping her locked in her barn all day long.
Elsa and Clive discuss the morality of cloning humans and splicing humans with velociraptors, but neither actually seems worried about the consequences. Elsa just wants to be able to hold her baby and Clive wants the same thing, only in an infinitely creepier way. The film makes it hard to care about this dysfunctional family since they are constantly betraying one another and stabbing each other in the back (foreshadowing). Dren doesn’t receive much character development time outside of a single scene where she cuddles with a stray cat.
Splice mentions on multiple occasions that the best scientists push boundaries and break rules. Perhaps the film could have benefited from its own advice. Although we do see things that can never been unseen, there is enough silliness to nullify the effect that scenes like those could have had.
Not a bad film, but not great one either; Splice manages to stay interesting long enough to keep you entertained, even if it is at the absurdity of it all.