‘Splice’ Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated June 11th, 2010 at 9:28 am,

Splice Splice Review
Screen Rant‘s Vic Holtreman reviews Splice

We first mentioned Splice way back in November 2007. Guillermo del Toro (Blade 2, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) was producing and Vincenzo Natali (director and co-writer of the cult classic Cube) was set to direct. It took a while to make it to the screen, premiered in Spain last November and had its real debut at Sundance this year. And now U.S. theater goers finally have their chance to get totally creeped out by it.

Right from the start, you’ll be wondering what you’re in for with some of the creepiest opening credits I’ve seen in a film. Splice stars Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as Clive Nikolai and Elsa Cast, a scientist couple who are at the forefront of genetic engineering. Their latest creations are “Fred and Ginger,” a pair of living, amorphous blobs from which proteins can be farmed that are invaluable in creating medications for diseases prevalent among farm animals. They were created from spliced together genes from a number of different animals.

The pharmaceutical company which employs them (which surprisingly is NOT portrayed as the prototypical “evil corporation”) needs a big win for the board of directors and stockholders. They want to move to the next level with the current research but Sarah and Clive want to jump ahead to what THEY consider the next level: Introducing human genes into the splicing program.

David Hewlett (best known from Stargate: Atlantis) is the supervising scientist and both he and the company president are against the idea due to both the risks and the ethical implications (especially how the press and public would react). Our pair of scientists are terribly put out by this news, in particular Sarah – who has made up her mind that she wants to move forward. Apparently she has Clive wrapped around her finger because despite his extreme reservations he goes along with her plan; hesitating and faltering at the last possible moment in which he can stop the entire experiment.

What follows starts out weird, moves to along to “creepy” and eventually ends up at “oh… DUDE!!”

At first the creature looks like no more than a misshapen organism, but as it grows it begins to look like a deformed infant and as it ages into a child it become a bit less deformed in some ways but more unsettling in others. While they struggle to keep it hidden from co-workers, Elsa becomes more and more attached to the creature, which while looking partially like a little girl, resembles more of a wild animal that someone tries to adopt and tame.

As Dren (eventually played by Delphine Chanéac) matures, the film really keeps you guessing as to what will happen next – which way it will turn, what will or can they do with the eventually fully matured woman/creature and at what point will things go horribly wrong (and boy, do they).

Splice image 5 570x306 Splice Review

Delphine Chanéac as Dren in 'Splice'

Vincenzo Natali does a fine job with what seems to be a fairly low budget, but the CGI effects that combine with live action to create Dren from infant to adult must not have been cheap. The low key way in which it was shot makes it feel somewhat cold and very real-world. Adrien Brody is always up to whatever acting task comes his way and Sarah Polley is convincing as the scientist with a hidden agenda hidden behind “mommy” instincts.

Really the first two-thirds to three-quarters of the film outshine what comes after. It’s not that what comes towards the end is bad – it’s just that the film goes from unique and engrossing Sci-Fi to more of a conventional horror film. Of course with that final act comes a thing or two that the viewer will probably find quite unsettling.

Splice is a hard movie to describe as far as for a recommendation – it’s a cross between horror and Sci-Fi, and while it’s not terribly gory, it IS unsettling and definitely deserves its R-rating. It tells a story that you’d think has been done to death, but approaches it from a new and surprising angle that is… well… I’m not sure refreshing is the right word, but you get my drift.

So I’ll leave you with that, and another look at the trailer for the film to help you decide.

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Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  1. I might have to check this out now. Thanks Vic

  2. Honestly I am the only person in my group of friends who want to see this and this review ans another 3 I read have confirmed that I have to see this. Thanks and great review

    • you can go see it man, but believe me, i love scary movies but this was crap. idk how its getting high ratings, i think its just ppl makin it seem better than it is. you’ll see though, you’re gonna spend 95% of the movie bored out the ass

  3. Hi Vic

    Really interested in this, but could you tell me if know when and if it wil be released in Australia? I have checked the “coming soon” section of all major and indie cinemas and it isnt on any of them


    • i cant find a release date for us (imdb is usually the best place to check).
      i would assume it might come out within 1-2 months of US release, or maybe less idk for sure. it might not even come out in cinemas, it might just be a straight to DVD (like gamer and ninja assassin)

      • Thanks, jwalka. Shamose, IMDB is where I would have gone to check, so I don’t know what to tell you.


  4. hey vic how graphic is it ?

    • It’s not terribly graphic in the traditional horror movie gore kind of way – think if it more like unsettling along the line of “Freaks.” However it is sexually graphic in scene.


  5. interesting…last time i checked, imdb had a killer user comment for this film. and i cant put my finger on it – but i dont see what’s New or really original in this film. if its horror effects – well, thats not my personal taste. If it was an interesting script – then i would consider it. but at the moment – it does not sound like that…

    If anyone else here has seen the movie, i’d really appreciate hearing their view and comments – maybe i’ll understand the appeal (4/5 Vic rates).

    • Dutch,

      I’m just an opinion of one. Head over to http://rottentomatoes.com for a quick overview of what others are saying about it.

      Best regards,


    • you can go see it man, but believe me, i love scary movies but this was crap. idk how its getting high ratings, i think its just ppl makin it seem better than it is. you’ll see though, you’re gonna spend 95% of the movie bored out the ass

  6. “…while it’s not terribly gory, it IS unsettling…”
    Sounds good.

    Prolly not going to see it in theatres, but looks like a buy when it comes on DVD.

  7. I’m not at all a Adrian Brody fan, but I might see this, my gf wants to see it, and since it’s horror, then Brody’s character has a great chance of dying in the movie so it might be worth it…

  8. You know somewhere underground this kind of stuff is really going on.

    Cool concept for a movie,,,

  9. 790,
    hopefully if it is going on,
    Nobody been too successful at it!
    We dont need any more Drens!

  10. Thing is Gary’ we’ve (mankind) been doing this kind of research since the 20s. Its just not talked about in the eat your cud, I’m a slave news media. 8-O
    Besides the Frankenstein similarities this film does sound very interesting. A definite cult classic ???

  11. Unfortunately Ken I don’t think our species can deal with the responsibility in a mature fashion.

    Much like this film sounds like,,,

  12. this looks pretty interesting; i’ll go see it when it comes out. Is there an irish release date?

  13. Ill see how it does at the box office and if its numero uno then ill go see it since Vic gave it such a high rating. I was going to skip this movie but I might have to check this out after reading this review

    • I doubt that it will be number one, since it’s R-rated; Shreck will probably get that spot again.

  14. Giddy… will have to lie to my wife about what we are seeing… do you think I could pull this off as a parents love for a child gone wrong story?… :D

  15. I just got back from this.
    I “enjoyed” it, as much as one can or should “enjoy” a film of this nature.
    My quick “blurb” to describe it: “It’s what ‘Species’ should have been”.

    Strong performances all across the board, well shot, GREAT SFX (considering it’s a Canadian film, with a proportionately lower budget).

    The score was beautiful.

    It was, exactly as the review above states, very “disturbing”. I walked out of this film and immediately felt like I needed a shower. While some appear to have found the last act weaker, I didn’t. It didn’t seem formulaic to me either. There was something profoundly painful about the dilemma Elsa faces regarding Dren, and her final actions regarding her “creation”.

    Even David Hewlett, who quite honestly annoys me beyond belief in Stargate, was ok in his role in this film.

  16. Famed Scientist Murdered By Hollywood: ‘Craig Venter found dead in movie theater’

    For years conservatives and doomsayers tirelessly campaigned to inform the public of the dangers in allowing unregulated research by genetic engineers and biochemists. Laws were enacted, regulations agreed and private industry ethics councils established to keep a short leash on the potentially life-altering, ecosystem destroying; wild west of the human imagination. Tonight, ironically on the very same night that the horror move ‘Splice’ opened in theaters nationwide; our worst fears have come to pass- the first human casualty in the genetic new-age and it was the individual who started mankind’s boldest quest; the venerable Dr. Venter. A mutation did not end the life of arguably the greatest scientist in modern history. The villain was in fact Hollywood and the abomination of film created in some dark, secret lab in the California hills. Dr. Venter was found in his theater chair the apparent victim of a massive coronary set upon him by ….

    You get the picture- literally.

  17. Oh yeah, im definitely going to see this when it finally comes out in Australia. Of course i had to get The Broken on DVD from the US, same thing with Dark Country, Inside etc.

    As for creepy vs gory creepy is better, not to mention harder to pull off.

  18. Speaking of creepy, check out Sarah Polley in Bigelow’s The Weight of Water.

  19. Maybe I just dont get creeped out as easily anymore but I found Splice to be kinda of a let down story wise. Acting and effects were very good. Story line was too much like species and was pretty much predictable from the start. it’s woth checking out but unless the unrated director’s cut has something more to offer it’s forgettable. And Brody’s character should have knocked the hell out of Polley’s character at least once in the film for how she acted but sigh….

  20. The chick with the tail is sorta hot. Hands for feet? ….invokes some bizarre but possibly fun positions. lol

  21. I thought it was a good movie…the connection between Dren and Elsa is what had me going, that was just flat out weird. But in my mind Elsa is like how i picture alot of genetic scientists: ambitious with moral compasses that only read gray.

    Overall the movie was great it kinda had an Outer limits feel too it. Which I love and i like how they kinda left it open for a sequel.

    I disagree Splice was like Species, I thought it might have had a few coincidences but overall it was completely different both in direction and characters. I only wish Hollywood would have more original ideas like Splice.

  22. Dren was pretty hot lol. But both sex scenes left me feeling dirty…especially the second one lol.

  23. Aw Vic I always agree with your opinions of movies but I completely disagree with you about Splice. I had a hard time taking it seriously, not to mention it was marketed as a horror movie and it was pretty far from being one. It wasn’t as creepy as it was completely disturbing, but not a horror movie kind of way.. more in a “holy crap who thinks of this stuff?!” kind of way.

    I was super disappointed :(

  24. I thought it was pretty good; about 3.5/5, maybe a 4. I also don’t agree it was like Species, which dealt with alien DNA. I didn’t think the last act was that bad, I thought it was the natural progression of the story, especially knowing what happened to the other 2 multi-speciel (is that even a word :-)) creatures.

    • @ Kahless

      It doesnt matter alien dna or not they were still splicing human genes with other genes and that is why it’s like Species and other movies that deal with that sort of thing. I don’t to point out the other similarities of why it’s like Species until a spoiler discussion page goes up, but please don’t try to it wasn’t like species because of one of the types of DNA that was used, that is a very small part of the overall comparison to Species.

      • well, to point out some major differences between Splice and Species (which emphasize how NOT alike the are), in Species, we were dealing with an invasive creature. Spliced with human DNA or not, it remained that it had an alien agenda, heavily implied to be conquest.

        In Splice, the creature is very much a Frankenstein’s monster… the “child” of these two scientists, and as such, it suffers from their unstable personalities and very-human defects. In Splice, we should have some sort of pity or caring for the creature. In Species, despite the misleading opening scene (with the child SIL), we are made aware from teh start that this is a predator and a killer.

        With the type of argument you are putting forward, then Schindler’s List is exactly like Jurassic Park… they both have adults and children in them. Both have people dying. Both happen on earth. Both have guns at some point in the story. Both have glorious soundtracks by John Williams.

        Species and Splice may have basic similarities, both dealing (the former superficially, the latter as the basic core of its story) with genetic experimentation. But the similarities end there.

        Species is your typical “monster arrives, monster is let loose, monster is chased” archetype sci-fi action/chase flick.

        Splice has no chase scenes at all. It deals almost entirely with the defective interpersonal relationships of the main characters. The entire film is motivated by how these relationships evolve and develop.

        • @ Mike E.

          Sorry but making a long winded rant purposely ignoring the similarities of Splice and Species makes your rant hollow and pointless. Firstly why would you even throw an example like Schindler’s List and Jurassic which every one know’s are on opposite ends of the spectrum in regards to this “argument” about Splice and Species? Species was not a monster arrives, gets loose, monster is chased archetype blah blah. if you want to be so scrutinizingly technical then guess what happened in Splice: monster arrived, monster gets loose several times, and is chased if you really want to be picky. Also in Species the Frankenstein formula was also used and ben Kingsly’s character though of her as a daughter. Also in Splice the genes are from one of the scientists not both so clearly you didn’t pay attention in the movie to that fact, and also as like in Species the creature from Species also had emotions of a person. Not to mention the fact that Dren also was a predator and killer as noted in a scene going to the farm, but I see u failed to mention that. Also the whole alien agenda for conquest statement is very weak, as in the later part of the movie that could be said of the Dren creature, and it pretty much acted as SIL did in Species when competition was perceived.

          Sorry but I dislike when people try to go on rants that are stuffed with a lot of of nothing while thinking a point is being made, and being inaccurate on what is being compared.

          • Well said

  25. very very good movie. it does have some very graphic,and shocking scenes but that does make it a better qaulity horror film. hope to see a sequel directed by the same director, and some more unique and original monster movies,and killer animal flicks,and sci fi thrillers done in this fashion with great story,effects,and acting. this one was not a dissapiontment. they need to remake the creature from the black lagoon,the island of dr moreau,resident evil like the first game,underworld the begining about the corvinus family,steve altens the loch,and maybe even jurassic park. but they all need to be done as i said before in this fashion. bring us some great horror flicks,and enough with the cheesy ghost films,slasher flicks,and over the top nonstop action movies that you call horror films. we need horror done right.

  26. Yeah i give this movie a 1 out of 5. at first it was really good but it fell into the predictable “horror/scifi” pace. And what ruined it for me was the two scenes (if you have seen it, you know what im talking about, near the end). its a movie that could have been really good but it falls into the same mess that others have been in.

  27. it made like 7 something million on a 30 million budget so i would say it under preformed,but i really hope it picks up soon,because i really want to see what happens next in the sequel. if people do not like this then they are not horror fans,or sci fi fans for that matter,and they most likely love films like scarymovie,or other really bad films like that. i say bring on a sequel please because i think there are going to be alot of people wanting to see more of splice.

    • give it time.
      it’s been showing for, what, three days? with a 7 mil. opening week-end, and a small-ish budget, I suspect it will easily recoup its costs and be profitable for its studio.

    • hey im a scifi fan, and i think this movie sucked.

  28. Good review Vic. I was going to stay away from this movie – - I think it looks ridiculously cheesy. But your review has me changing my mind. I haven’t seen a proper sci-fi/horror in a long time. My friends will be happy I’m joining them on this outing.

  29. This film wasn’t scary at all.

    That beng said…it was rather creepy. I have to admit, for not having a single spoken word in the whole film, that gal that played Dren was able to convey her feelings pretty easily through her facial expressions and actions. And as sick as it sounds, she turned me on a time or two.

    All that aside…the speed at which all this took place, and the fact that they kept this secret from a bunch of super geniuses one room away for the better part of the film was ridiculous. There were plot holes as big as a suburban, and definite flaws in the story.