Written by Chris Price
28 Monday 28th June 2010
With the announcement that some mad bunker of boffins has managed to create the first, the release of Splice has been quite a timely one (albeit a few months late). The media will focus on salt-and-pepper scientists in some underground labyrinth of ex-KGB laboratories, fiddling with embryos and glaring into microscopes. The world will most likely be brought to its knees by a pair of loved up penthouse-dwelling DNA jockeys with damaged childhoods. Remember this, when we’re outnumbered ten to one by albino Cyclopes with no elbows. The beautiful people are to blame.
Saying that Adrian Brody is a pretty good example of DNA splicing (between Alistair McGowan and a massive nose), and Sarah Polley is looking way more grizzled than she did slotting zombies in Dawn of the Dead. They play two gung-ho scientists, who’ve created two wee, living mounds of gristle in an effort to extract DNA to cure human ailments. All good, until the money starts to run out, and their life’s work is at stake. Cue – gasp – PHASE 2 – mixing in some human DNA. The resultant Satsuma/chicken creature that flops out (‘Dren’ – top for worst film names ever) sends the pair on a spiralling matriarchal nightmare as they seek to document their newborn through its life cycle, because they are great scientists. Or something.
Initially, it’s quite fun – a fast moving bit of nervy blue tint CSI-style science action (in a lab staffed by aging Adam Sandler lookalikes), with the little creature ambling about the place chirping away. Guillermo Del Toro’s production is evident, lots of ‘eye’ stuff (eyes moving around the creatures head as it grows), and the permanent twilight as the creature grows in secret in some fluorescent basement. Brody and Polley manage to carry off the conflicted scientists/parents role quite effectively.
Splice has so much potential, with a rich field that’s near enough as far as technology is concerned to be played for some real-life shocks. But about 30 minutes in, the film settles into an obvious rut. There are glimmers of hope (as Dren starts to showcase unforeseen skills or uncovering Polley’s traumatic history) but mostly played for padding, or too crowbarred in to patch-up plot holes.

I think my main gripe is the creature – I spent the whole beginning of the film repulsed by each stage of Dren’s development, and found all the interaction from the cast totally incomprehensible. Perhaps its because I hate kids, or don’t fancy bald girls, but either way, 90 minutes of Splice left my face hurting from some hardcore grimacing. So 10/10 for foreboding unpleasantness. But all in all, this is purely for diehard Del Toro fans and DNA manipulation nuts. For everyone else, it’s a predictable, tiring bit of CGI fluff. 

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