There has been a scientific breakthrough at the N.E.R.D. labs, where pioneering young boffins Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and his girlfriend Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) have created a new lifeform out of other animal genetic material: in fact they've made two. They call them Fred and Ginger and hope that the combination of these two will assist in making new compounds that will go some way to curing such conditions as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. But for Elsa, they are simply not going far enough, and when they get a directive from on high to curb their research, well, that's not going to stop her...
Bringing David Cronenberg horror into the twenty-first century seeing as how the man had lost interest in doing so himself by that time was writer and director Vincenzo Natali, updating that type of story into the era of genetic experimentation with DNA and suchlike. Not that this made his plot any more believable, though if you approached Splice as a monster movie with a dash of social commentary then you'd likely get on with it better than trying to get your head around the science fiction elements that were so hard to take. As it worked out, Natali managed to get away with this by applying a blackly comic tone.
What this essentially was turned out to be a commentary on bad parents who would bring a life into the world with no idea of how to look after it, and once it was alive and kicking their skills in being a good mummy and daddy were sadly lacking. Granted, they are dealing with a problem child, but the film did not blame it for its own poor behaviour, well, how could it when it was mad science we were dealing with in this case? Elsa wishes to push forward the boundaries of their research, therefore for their next, secret experiment she mixes the DNA of a female human donor with the animal stuff they already have.
What that makes is a new lifeform, although Clive is very relcutant to allow it to live considering the amount of trouble it puts them through even from the outset, and it becomes a running (and sick) joke that he keeps trying to bump the creature off when the pressure of nurturing it becomes too much. It starts off as a little squirmy thing, whereupon Elsa's maternal instincts take over, as does her scientific curiosity to see how far they are able to take this offspring, although the religious aspect, meddling in God's domain and all that, is notable in its abscence as it's the crime of messing around with Mother Nature that more concerns us here, even if it's not concerning the two scientists too much.
Not until it's too late, anyway, seeing the creature grow to adulthood and earning its own name, Dren (Delphine Chanéac), which is nerd backwards (and not a reference to Farscape swearwords, although they do end up well and truly in the dren). It is now a she, and full of surprises such as a barbed tail that operates much as the scorpion's sting does, one of many developments that make you wonder what, exactly, the number of animals they took genetic bits and bobs from was. What we can perceive is that Dren is dangerous, but Elsa had such a bad time growing up that she wishes to compensate for the terrible time her mother gave her, even as she falls into her parent's corrosive ways. Natali has a few bizarre twists up his sleeve which turned off a lot of the audience, and it does descend into a run away from the monster cliché by the end, although he does have one added depravity for us to consider. Too outlandish for a commentary on true science, as a creature feature Splice was far better. Music by Cyrille Aufort.