Horror films are supposed to be scary and fill you with foreboding, fear and then the elation of the protagonist having survived a frightening situation. A good horror film is an adrenaline rush, an emotional roller coaster that can be surprisingly fun.
Unfortunately, Splice is none of these things, and when you finally get to the scary scene, it’s about ten minutes from the end of the film, after a build-up that left me bored and had most of the audience laughing at what were supposed to be the tense scenes.
The fundamental problem with Splice is that the three writers, Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor, couldn’t decide if they were creating a thoughtful docu-drama about the ethical dilemma posed by genetic manipulation or a straight-out horror film, and instead created a film that’s boring and unfocused, with two of the stupidest “scientist” roles ever committed to screen.
Splice takes place in the R&D facility of Newstead Pharma, run by cliché money-grubbing CEO Joan Chorot (Simona Maicanescu in a startlingly bad performance). The genetic engineering lab, known as Nucleic Exchange Research & Development, is run by husband and wife couple Clive and Elsa (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) and also employs Clive’s brother Gavin (Brandon McGibbon), a character who seemed like he should have been cast in the next Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure instead.
They’re doing genetic splicing to create creatures that can produce medicinal proteins that will be worth billions and Elsa wants to add human DNA to the stew to work towards cures for altzheimers, cancer, and a laundry list of other ailments. The result is a weird quasi-human called Dren (played, with some CG assist, by Delphine Chanéac).
The result is that Splice is an unfrightening mess of a film that could have been a thoughtful exploration of the moral and ethical dilemmas associated with genetic manipulation or could have been a “look what we’ve unleashed on the world!” film in the mold of Frankenstein, but instead it’s neither and ends up a slick looking but pointless cinematic experience.