SPLICE IS WEIRD—like, not at all what I expected. Seeing as horror and sci-fi flicks have a very established genetic makeup, prone to inbreeding and a reduced fitness of the species, this peculiarity speaks well on the film's behalf. Truthfully, I was just expecting a few jumps and scares, maybe some indeterminate creepiness, but Splice is of a different feather. It's a bizarre take on the standard creature feature, with uncomfortable sex scenes and really uncomfortable mommy issues, because while there may be a deadly science experiment on the loose, Splice's true monster is a mad mommy scientist.
The two worst genetic engineers on the planet, lovey-dovey Elsa (Sarah Polley) and Clive (Adrien Brody), are trying to produce a protein-rich creature in their big corporate laboratory, which will exude pharmaceuticals (yeah, what?!). Being as every pharma creature that Elsa and Clive has ever made looks like an ugly mangled penis, the couple decide to try for a human hybrid to call their very own (for science!). Many science lab montages later, they create a human-animal hybrid, who also looks kinda like a walking penis (it's just a phase). Vaguely unlikeable Clive starts to wonder about the moral certitude of playing God to this hairless penis baby, while bitchy Elsa starts to give Joan Crawford a run for her money in the parenting annals. As they say, things don't end well.
For all its oddities, Splice comes off as David Cronenberg lite, a film with a few touches of visceral skeeviness and a striking cinematic palette, but lacking a sense of tension or empathy for the main characters. While the film goes into unexpected places, it's such a flat journey with detestable companions that it's hard to congratulate it for taking you there. When you mess with the natural order, it seems like a good idea to improve upon what came before it—Splice definitely tries, yet doesn't quite deliver.