The theater release of Splice may have slipped by you unnoticed in June of 2010. Frankly I wouldn't be surprised if you also missed the DVD and On Demand release just a few months later. But the point is that it's here now for all to see. The question very few people are waiting to have answered remains: Should you see it?
While I definitely would not have gone to see this movie in theaters, I did watch it recently over my Thanksgiving vacation with some family members because it happened to have a longer running time than a documentary on vampires, which, when you're paying $5 to rent it through your cable provider, is an important thing to take into account.
There I was, snuggling with a steaming hot cup of cocoa, fuzzy socks on my feet, with my spouse, aunts, uncles and cousins all around me, watching the opening credits to Splice.
The first thing I'm reminded of, is Splice stars the NYC native, Adrien Brody, most famous for winning his Academy Award for Best Actor in The Pianist (2002). Adrien Brody is like a rare fruit that ripens with age, now starring in such films as Predators (2010), in which he shared the spotlight with the disturbingly surreal, Topher Grace. Logically his next move in cinema had to be strategically planned. Hence Splice.
Clive (Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) play genetic engineers. They also happen to be romantically involved and living together. N.E.R.D (lol at the level of cleverness) is the evil money hungry corporation they work for.
In the beginning of the movie we are introduced to their primary project: two globular beings that look like large digesting stomachs made of cellulite. Elsa and Clive explain that they have created a pair, one male and one female, called Fred and Ginger. They want to merge these pulsating stomachs with human DNA to create a hybrid being in order to revolutionize science as we know it. N.E.R.D. forbids this, not surprisingly, and I'm sure you can guess what happens next.
That's right my dear Watson! With a little psycho prodding from Elsa (more to come there my friends), Clive agrees to do it anyway in secret. In a huge corporate funded research facility??? With hundreds of other workers all around??? What's that...oh of course, there's an abandoned wing that's not in use. Phew, how convenient for our stars.
Although many of the actual details are left out of this plot line, we are led to the conclusion that Elsa has injected her DNA into the creature for their experiment. We'll skip forward a bit to the birth of Elsa's sort of clone sort of hybrid baby which she names Dren (get it...it's N.E.R.D. spelled backwards!!!).
When Dren first appears (congrats Elsa! It's a girl) she mostly looks like a fleshy monkey/rabbit. They soon learn that she has a toxic poison stinger on her tail. Gee, I wonder if that's going to come back at all later in the story?? Oh, also she has retractable wings.
Basically Dren grows super super fast, maturing into a teenager in an undisclosed amount of time, but we're pretty sure it's weeks. Eventually they can't keep her in their not so secret lab and she's moved to a barn in the country. This is where we learn that Elsa is a psycho bitch because she suffered some kind of abuse from her mother there. Again...it's not quite clear what happened. This plot is just riddled with holes that, like all over our nations highways, never seem to be filled.
In order to place more emphasis on Elsa's traumatic past, they show her acting very bipolar with Dren as she matures. She takes away her pet cat, and even cuts off her stinger one minute, and then gives her presents and makeovers the next. Clive sees Elsa unraveling, particularly in an awkward dance montage with Dren when he realizes the truth about where she came from.
How many awkward/uncomfortable scenes can there be in this one movie? A lot, and French Canadian director, Vincenzo Natali, saves the best for the final act.
In a moment of awkward passion, Clive has sex with Dren. Not surprisingly, Elsa walks in on them and storms off in the couple's Gremlin (sweet car). You can imagine the next scene between Clive and Elsa.
Clive: (Walks into apartment. Elsa is sitting at the table) "Soooo...are we cool? I mean you do share the same DNA. How do you feel about waffles this morning?"
Needless to say, after the inter species sex, Elsa and Clive decide to "terminate" their science experiment. When they get to the abandoned barn they find Dren dead. Much like you're supposed to do with any type of medical or electrical waste, they just dump her a hole out back.
The pesky supervisor from N.E.R.D. learns about their little project and follows them to the country where he insists on seeing Dren. Who would have predicted that they wouldn't actually be able to hide Dren in that huge research facility without a bunch of people finding out???
Just as they tell The Man that she's buried out back, Dren swoops into the scene. Death has changed her a little. Mostly because she's now a he. Clive an Elsa probably should have taken into account that Ginger, the female blob from the beginning changed sex halfway through the movie. That's something I would definitely have looked into. But whatever.
Uber male Dren is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. He wipes out the N.E.R.D guys in like two seconds and then focuses his attention on surrogate parents Clive and Elsa. The couple runs deep into the woods, where Clive is undoubtedly thinking "OMG does this make me gay??!??"
The movie climaxes with a most disturbing scene in which Dren actually speaks, raping Elsa, and telling her he wants to be "inside her." Gross! In a final heroic moment, Clive kills Dren just before he is fatally poisoned by his HUGE tale stinger (I so called that one).
The epilogue shows an extremely pregnant Elsa, haggling with the N.E.R.D. president over rights to her hybrid Dren baby. My thing with this is how stupid is this woman? That baby probably has a stinger too. She'll most likely die when the baby is born, if not before then. She's either an idiot, or seriously pro life. I mean that's hardcore.
My main problem with this movie is that it didn't know what it wanted to be. It lacks the intentional comedic timing and value of a true B movie, but it isn't good enough to take seriously either. Nothing is ever really explained, the characters are kind of flat, and Brody and Polley have zero chemistry together. They play like two people that happen to be in the same room together. In all honesty, blobs Ginger and Fred had a better stage presence, and that's just sad.
The fore mentioned Academy Award says that Brody can act, so who's to blame for this mishap? I'm going to say this is all on the director, Vincenzo Natali. After researching a few of his other movies (no I didn't watch them, but I did read reviews), his calling card seems to be providing the audience with a fairly interesting premise, but not really following through on anything else.
If you like to create your own Mystery Science Theater experience, then watch this movie. It has a lot of talking points, and laugh worthy material. It's not really worth spending the money to buy though, so plan on renting or better yet, streaming it off Netflix. If you don't believe me, just look at the Box Office numbers. Splice cost an estimated $26,000,000 to make, and only earned about $17,000,000. I would say the studio lost money on this deal.
The Minx gives this movie a C-. Having an interesting premise is not enough to carry a movie, no matter how many sex scenes you throw into it. The general message of Splice is, in the words of Patton Oswalt, "We're all about coulda not shoulda. You're welcome. We're science."