If only Splice had been as great as it promised to be. I first became intrigued about Splice when stills from the film began circulating the internet. The imagery and plot indicated an intelligent, original sci-fi horror film: Two adventurous scientists conduct a secret genetic experiment with unintended consequences, as they formulate a new species of human/animal makeup. Almost a year later, I saw the first trailer. My excitement grew. Then, I left for Indonesia the weekend it came out and I apparently missed the subsequent marketing that was not as effective. Unfortunately, my anticipation was undeserved.
It’s not as if Splice is entirely bad. In fact, I really enjoyed the first half of the film. The characters were interesting and their rebellious manner of exploring science could be charming at times. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are always welcome faces. The creature design is equally as good, especially as it continues to grow. The different phases of its maturity provide complexity to the relationships of the scientists to their genetic experiment. You feel bad for the confused, whimpering creature in its early stages of development. This sympathy slowly dissipates into uneasiness, as strength and intelligence become stronger characteristics of the genetically engineered being. Obviously, the moral complexity continues to deepen as well. Should this thing be treated as a human? As a pet? Or as an experiment?
Should have gassed that bitch...
No, I'm not talking about the creature.
Eventually, the film starts to forget these questions. It becomes less about science and more about drama. The love triangle that forms between the scientists and their creation is painfully forced upon the audience. Once the creature matures into a woman-like figure, the movie plummets fast and hard into cheesy sci-fi soap opera land. What is intended to be sexy is a joke. What is intended to be complex is simple. What is meant to be surprising is obvious. The second act and third act reveals can be seen from so far away that you wonder why you continued to watch the film. The last few scenes of the film are laughable—so silly and mediocre that it feels like it’s an entirely different film.
"How's my makeup? Can you still see my butt forehead?"
Even if the filmmakers decided not to delve deep into controversial bioethics (which I’m not necessarily saying they should have), they could have at least made it more of a horror film. As the first trailers showed, this film had the potential to be scary. After the first act, it doesn’t even attempt to be frightening. I wanted scenes where the creature escapes, wreaks havoc on humans, and opens up all sorts of disastrous cans of worms for the natural order of things. I’m not asking for jump scares or excessive gore, but I’m asking for SOMETHING! Something other than dramarama.
"Mommy, what does genetic mistake mean? I heard it from Daddy."
Anyway, Splice is an interesting movie to see because it will probably be talked about in horror circles for a while, especially because of some…ummm…peculiar scenes. Before you check it out, lower your expectations a few notches. It does have some great moments in the first half of the film that do make it worth a watch if you know not to get too worked up over what’s to follow.