Splice (15) **** Directed by: Vincenzo Natali Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac, Abigail Chu
IN KEEPING with its genetic engineering backdrop, Splice is an entertainingly loopy sci-fi horror film that fuses disparate ideas together to form a strange hybrid that doesn't always behave the way genre convention dictates. Which is a way of saying that, while it doesn't hold back on delivering the odd moment of outlandish gore, it also turns out to be way funnier, freakier and more perverted than its Frankenstein-style story suggests.
That story revolves around Clive and Elsa (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley, their characters named for the stars of Bride of Frankenstein), a childless couple who have acquired rock star-like reputations in the scientific community for their ability to create organic organisms from which essential proteins can be harvested. After a Scanners-style snafu results in their latest creations showering their insides over a delegation of corporate investors, Elsa secretly begins experimenting with human DNA, birthing a strange, oddly alluring humanoid girl called Dren in the process. It's at this point that co-writer/director Vincenzo Natali morphs the film into an increasingly batty Freudian nightmare about parenthood, with the rapidly maturing Dren (played by Delphine Chanac) coming between Clive and Elsa in disturbing ways.