Splice is a slice of freaky-deaky sci-fi horror done with enough style and weirdness to keep your eyes glued to the screen. Director Vincenzo Natali (Cube) takes a few notes from David Cronenberg in staging his creature feature. A scientific couple (Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley) are about to have their gene-splicing lab shut down, so they make a radical decision to start an experimental personal project. Utilizing human genes, they combine other DNA to create a new species. The moral ambiguity and scientific danger is thoughtfully addressed, with the couple quickly finding how easy it is to make moral compromises. Soon they become attached to the creature they name “Dren” and view her as a daughter. Things get even crazier when Dren starts exhibiting some Oedipal desires. Slick cinematography and seamless practical and digital effects help ensure that Splice is never dull. The movie seems two steps away from achieving true greatness. In the end, after all the intrigue and surprising amount of emotional subtlety given the premise, Splice devolves into a by-the-numbers slasher film. The final act is all about character poking around in the dark for the big scary monster. It’s not nearly as intellectually stimulating. In this regard, Splice reminds me of 2007’s Sunshine, another sci-fi film that started strong, had some style and brains, and then blew it by devolving into a clichéd horror movie where characters outrun a super-powerful slasher villain. As a fan of intelligent sci-fi, it’s frustrating to get teased with greatness and have to settle with pretty good, but I’ll gladly take the gonzo pleasures of Splice over any rote action thriller.
Nate’s Grade: B