I'm going to be honest right out of the bat: I wasn't expecting anything from this film. Honestly I was expecting a 100 minute jump scare fest rip off of Species. I mean Vincenzo Natali is a pretty good director and has directed some seriously good films (a la the original Cube) and Sarah Polley is a VERY VERY good actress, especially when it comes to horror films, but the cheap looking trailer, Adrian Brody's presence (I just hate the sound of his voice), and it's total seemingly lack of originality (on top of it looking like Species, the first poster looked straight out of Aliens), I was really not expecting much.
But what I got surprised the hell outta me. I got a well written, well acted, completely mesmerizing and superb thriller that doesn't use ANY jump scares, has fantastic acting across the board and, above all, is a film I'll remember for a while.
The story of Splice follows two scientists named Clive and Elsa. They are top ranked scientists who are famous for their work with gene splicing and combining DNA tissue to create beings that can be used for protein harvesting. They do presentations, they are on the cover of magazines and their two specimens Ginger and Fred have exceeded their expectations. Clive and Elsa also soon hope that, with the help of Ginger and Fred and using human DNA tissue, they can solve all of the world's diseases. But because it's taboo and frowned upon they deny them this request and ask they focus on this protein they've been working on.
Well Elsa and Clive aren't happy with this and create a human/animal hybrid. Clive is content because he thinks it will do wonders for the scientific world and Elsa...well Elsa wants to see if the thing will live. So without Clive's consent she plants an embryo into the processing chamber and before they know it a creature is born.
Age 50 (as it is called before it gets a name) is a half human-half animal female hybrid that has a venomous tail, bird like legs and is rapidly growing in her body and in her mind. Soon Dren, as Elsa lovingly names it, becomes a full fledged woman esque creature and they need to whisk her off somewhere safe.
That's where the movie splits up into two parts which make up the bulk of this film (bout 40 minutes or so).
On one side you got Clive and Elsa trying to take care of this child and raise her while keeping her a secret and working on the new protein, and on the other you got Dren learning and growing and trying to find an identity and figure out her purpose. It's these scenes with Dren that are truly fascinating. Dren doesn't talk but exudes emotion through her eyes and her movement. The way she holds things, the way she smiles, the way she laughs, it's all growth and it's truly breathtaking to watch.
It's almost a coming of age story in a sense but also a deep thriller because of all the secrecy and because of the last 20 minutes which are some of the most terrifying things I've seen. Needless to say there is one scene in the film I will never unsee as long as I live...it's on par with The Human Centipede.
Splice's great plot and amazing writing (done by Natali as well) is also helped by the amazing acting. Polley is great as always and proves she is a very underrated actress. Brody is actually good although he hits his stride about halfway through the film and kind of drags his feet a bit through the first half. The biggest surprise however comes from model and DJ Delphine Chaneac who plays the teen/adult/grown Dren. She never talks...well one line but still...she never talks. Because of that she has to get all of her emotion and feelings through other means. On top of that she also has to be half animal and half person so she can't be too human but she can't also be full on animal. She is a treat to watch and I hope to see her in more.
All in all Splice was a huge surprise for me and while some people complain it wasn't SCARY or it didn't take it far enough, I really didn't think that's what the film was going for. It was trying to be tense, not scary and I don't want it to be the Human Centipede or a really heavy handed political thriller so I was happy with how it turned out. A great film, give it a look.
MY VERDICT: OWN IT