I will give the makers of “Splice” one thing: they’ve got gall. They have the audacity to pitch a taboo (borderline unsettling) subject matter as a standard summer horror film. Unfortunately, the unorthodox storytelling method used in this film works against itself rather than for itself. What has seen probably the most drastically controversial critical reception of any mainstream film this year, this characteristic either wins the viewer over or alienates and perturbs them. I suppose you can guess what side of the fence I stand on.
I never knock a film solely for being an anomaly. I LOVED “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” mostly BECAUSE it was unlike anything I had ever seen. But I feel that most critics’ compliments toward “Splice” happen to be the exact reasons why I dislike it. Throwing together a few rudiments belonging to genres such as science fiction, horror, creature feature, thriller and psychological drama, the whole thing feels like an enormous personality crisis; it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly the filmmakers were going for, it does not seem to exclusively fit to one genre and is crushed under its own weight before the end credits begin to roll. It is a showy and stylish mess.
The two protagonists we follow are young (and supposedly brilliant) biogenetic scientists Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) who are on the verge of an important breakthrough. By splicing DNA of many dissimilar animals, they are able to generate a new hybrid species altogether. According to research, they can formulate ailments to copious amounts of genetic diseases and such (Parkinsons, diabetes and even cancer could be hypothetically eliminated). However, this project is cut short due to lack of funding resources at their laboratories at N.E.R.D.
So these two “geniuses” decide to perform the necessary procedures to their theory without backing from their company. By placing human DNA into the mix, they create an odd little creature they affectionately call Dren (N.E.R.D. backwards, of course). This specimen ages much quicker than most animals and seemingly reaches teenagerhood in just a couple of weeks. Throughout these weeks, the two (okay, mainly Elsa) care for Dren in a parent-to-child or –pet kind of way, teaching it basic motor skills and fundamental knowledge. However, this would not be part horror if a few things did not get monumentally screwed up in the process.
I will not reveal anything about what happens in the final half of the movie, just in case there is the off chance that the reader will actually enjoy the film. But let me tell you that I personally found the final third just plain ridiculous and lazy. Who cares if the filmmakers are being artful and unconventional with the horror/thriller angle. A bad story is a bad story. This story does not define itself as scary, thrilling, provocative, stylish or anything of the like. Sure the results to all of these weird events grab your attention, but for all the wrong reasons. I was shocked at the directions it took mainly because I did not think it could get anymore ludicrous. Well…it did.
I almost feel like I am being too hard on the film. But “Splice” is one of the most singularly overrated, over-hyped and unsatisfactory movie experiences of the year. That is really too bad, because the premise honestly had me anticipating beforehand and I expected something interesting based on the semi-positive word of mouth, the astounding CG-effects and the promising first couple of minutes. The movie is the product of a splicing experiment between sci-fi, horror and drama. The miscalculation was that it does not work as any of the above.
Brodyquest is easily a better showcase of Adrien Brody's talent: