Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley star in Splice, which capitalizes on the fear of human cloning and stem cell research. The movie is a slow boil thriller intended less to scare than to tell a story about the dynamics between three individuals, one that takes a shockingly disturbing turn in the third act. It's not perfect, but Splice succeeds more often than not.
In the film, Brody and Polley play a couple and research partners who are examining ways to develop transplant organs. As a "side" project, they secretly create a half-human creature with a female body, a lethal stinger for a tail and not much in the way of a vocal cord. It sounds like the perfect woman to me, minus the lethal stinger. Anyway, while Clive (Brody) is initially reluctant to nurture the creature and Elsa (Polley) obsessively convinced that it's "like her own child", their opinions soon reverse. The creature, dubbed Dren (and played by Delphine Cheneac), attempts to understand her human "parents" and human emotions while adjusting to her own evolutionary instincts - which, as can be expected, are not always very civilized.
Horror fans looking for a steady dose of violence and gore will have to look elsewhere as Splice is much more a talking man's horror movie - at least until the end. The focus is on the character dynamic between the three lead characters. The dynamic is interesting and compelling, primarily thanks to the talent involved. Both Brody and Polley turn in fine performances. Cheneac, meanwhile, delivers to audiences one of the more unique cinematic monsters in recent memory. She's both beautiful and frightening simultaneously, a creature you feel sympathy for and yet fear.
Splice picks up steam as the plot develops and darkens. The climax is somewhat predictable, perhaps a cop out to cater to the typical horror audience, but there are a couple f**ked up parts that make it well worth it. To say what they are would betray the film, but they stand in stark contrast to what otherwise is a relatively tame thriller.
The movie is not without its shortcomings, but the intriguing premise and performances make Splice a worthy entry in the horror genre.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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