Two cutting edge geneticists attempt a final experiment before the autonomy of their lab is reascended, and knowingly open Pandora's box.
Perhaps the first thing I should write in this review is a warning: If you plan on seeing this movie but haven't yet, do not read this or any other review before doing so. Now let the review begin.
The trailers are telling you that Splice is just waiting to to be the next Alien, a horror thriller that will keep you up at night with fear of what's crawling through your air ducts. The trailers are lying to you. What your in for with Splice is a much more mental (and disturbing) experience. One that's razor sharp in every form of the word.
At it's core, Splice is a story about the appalling things we're capable of doing to those whom we deem less than human. Layered on top, is a subtly and expertly navigated exploration of at times enviable and at times dark as night family dynamics. Behind all of this is Director Vincenzo Natali, who co-wrote with Antionette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor, looking every line he comes to dead on before happily crossing them. As a result Splice is a double-edged sword: the very qualities that will win it critical praise, will almost certainly cost it hearts and minds in theater.
Sarah Polley and Adrian Brody burn bright as the scientist in question, holding little back. They alone are the pieces that keep the movie together when it looses it's footing occasionally as it moves along. The entire movie is left to them to sell, even in the midst of it's longest reaches, and they come through time and time again.
The film plays like an Indy film, which is closer to what it was meant to be before it was (surprisingly) picked up for major distribution- something that Producer Guillermo del Toro had a hand in no doubt. As I said before, there is only the slightest hint of a traditional monster movie here- despite veiled references to Shelly's Frankenstein. But, on second thought, Frankenstein may be a good comparison as it too comes from a source that means only to explore the concept of humanity but gets boiled down to popcorn fair.
Unfortunately, one thing Splice has in common with it's jump-scare brethren is that it is much stronger in theory than in execution. Looking beyond the screen it's easy to see Natali's vision. It seems at times that he is too lost in it to remember to show it to us. I'm not one for having my hand held- but there are times where it feels like Natali forgot to tell us something. The info is there, it's not like the movie is broken, but at the same time it seems it would have served itself better with a little more explanation in places.
Even lacking the manufactured thriller elements in the trailers, Splice is still not a movie for the timid. The emotionally skittish need not apply, and if your not sure whether that means you- then it does. That it's a thing unlike most others goes without saying, and one can only hope that it earns enough money to tell the studios that the general public is ready for movies this smart. For all it's faults, Splice is still a beautiful, and horrible, creation.