Splice is a 2009 Canadian-French film that fell into the science fiction and horror genres. It was directed by Vincenzo Natali. It was produced by Steve Hoban. The film stared Adrien Brody as Clive Nicoli, Sarah Polley as Elsa Kast, and Delphine Chaneac as Dren. The story was written by Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, and Doug Taylor. The story is about experiments in genetic engineering that are being done by a young couple that work in the science field and who attempt to introduce human DNA into their work of splicing animal genes to create one awesome hybrid.
Two genetic engineers Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast hope to achieve their fame in this world by splicing animal DNA to create hybrids for medical use at the company N.E.R.D. (Nucleic Exchange Research and Development) They had previously been doing an experiment on Fred, a dog-sized creature who was intended as a mate for their female creature, Ginger. After successfully mating them, they plan to create a human-animal hybrid that could revolutionize science. Their employers at N.E.R.D. forbid them from doing this experiment. So, Clive and Elsa perform their own experiment in secret. They develop a successful female experiment. They had planned to terminate the hybrid before it could reach its full term, but Elsa persuaded Clive to let it live. The hybrid becomes aggressive and when they try to destroy it the hybrid attempts to escape, but is subdued before it can. The hybrid is aging at an accelerated rate and showing signs of mental development equal to that of a young child. Elsa names the hybrid Dren.
Elsa forms a motherly bond with Dren. After Dren attacks Clive's brother Gavin they move her to an isolated farm. There, Dren develops carnivorous tendencies and retractable wings. She grows into adolescence teenager and becomes bored with being locked up in the barn. However, Elsa and Clive won’t let her outside for fear that she might be discovered. Clive realizes that the human DNA used to make Dren was Elsa's. Elsa had told him it was from an anonymous donor, but had lied.
Dren seduces Clive, and Elsa finds them having sex in the barn, and becomes extremely upset. Clive accuses Elsa of never having wanted a child because she was afraid of losing control. That is why she had created Dren so that she could raise a child as an experiment, one that she was sure to be able to control. They decide that the only solution to their problem is to terminate the experiment, Dren, but when they arrive at the barn Dren is already dying. Dren dies. William Barlow comes to investigate the experiment that Clive and Elsa have been working on. When he gets there they say that Dren has died. When he doesn’t believe them they show him where she is buried. Unbeknownst to them, Dren has transformed into a male and rises from the grave. Kills everyone, but Elsa; he rapes her. Then Elsa kills him. Elsa becomes pregnant with Dren’s child and decides to keep it.
Erotica is a very prominent theme in the film Splice; one that keeps reoccurring. When Dren gets into her adolescent years she becomes sexualized just as any teenage girl does. She grows into a creature of irresistible sexuality. We don’t really see this until she is strapped down to the table for a medical experiment and they cut open her shirt. Before that she was growing into an attractive male, but the audience doesn’t realize that she is so irresistible. The next sexual scene is when Dren seduces Clive, She is on top of him wings spread out and going hard. Elsa walks in to discover the two of them having sex in the barn. The next scene we experience is Dren who has spontaneously turned into a male and is raping Elsa. There is also the hint of bestiality in the film because we know that Dren is a hybrid of animal and human genealogy.
This film really plays up the theme of the parental role in the two geneticists. It shows the activities of them as geneticists and then as parents. They find themselves questioning the actions they take just like every parent does. Should they create this thing? How will the creature disrupt their personal lives and their professional lives? What do they do when the creature won’t eat? Should they terminate their experiment or keep on going with it? These are all questions that they ask themselves which really shows the parental instincts and personal limitation that they both have. It shows Clive as the weak indecisive male parent figure a direct adaptation from the character in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein. Also, showing us the character of the scientist and his desire to create new life through his experiments. After they move Dren to a new location she becomes incredibly ill and is running an extremely dangerous fever. They put her into a sink full of cold water. While she is in the sink Clive places his hand around her neck and pushes her down into the water, drowning her. However, Dren cannot be drowned, and lives. Then the film contrasts this male character with the character of Elsa; a strong motherly figure and a character that is female and has those desires of wanting to have a child. Elsa is the one who convinces Clive to let Dren live. They were supposed to terminate her before she reached her full term. Elsa is also the one who names her. She names her Dren after she spells out NERD after seeing the letters on Elsa’s shirt that she was wearing.
Dren is a foil character for both Clive and Elsa portrayed as their child. Dren starts of as an embryo, she then grows into a baby like creature, she then an interesting curious little girl, and then she grows into a creature of sexuality as she grows her wings. The film shows the struggle of working and being a parent. While Elsa and Clive are studying Dren they end up neglecting the work they are supposed to be doing on Fred and Ginger for their employers at N.E.R.D. At a presentation that is extremely publicized, Fred and Ginger fight to the death. Apparently Ginger had spontaneously been turned into a male, but neither Clive nor Elsa noticed because they were too focused on their secret work with Dren. It also shows the struggle that the “child” has on their relationship. Clive accuses Elsa of never wanting a child because she fears she would lose control and says that is the reason she did the experiment to see what it would be like to have a child, but to also keep control. The first ending of the film gave the audience the chance to see the theme of parenthood on display. It provided lessons in life and in growing up and it especially provided lessons for new parents.
Reception and ImpactEdit
Splice has received mainly positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes has the film at a 75% critic review with an average score of 6.6 out of 10. It was nominated in 2011 for Best Make- Up and Best Science Fiction Film by the Academy of Science fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, USA. Also in 2011 the film won the Canadian Cinema Editors Award for Best Editing in a Feature Length Film and won the Directors Guild of Canada award for Picture Editing of a Feature Film, was nominated for Direction in a Feature Film, Production Design in a Feature Film, and Sound Editing in a Feature Film, and it was nominated for the Feature Film award. In the same year the film was nominated by the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards for Best Wide Release Film, Best Actress- Sarah Polley, Best Makeup and Creature FX, Best Score, Worst Film, and Best Supporting Actress- Delphine Chaneac. In 2010 the film was nominated for the Fright Meter Award for Best Make- Up and in 2011 was nominated by the Genie Awards for Best Motion Picture, Best Achievement in Direction, Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Editing. In 2010 the film was nominated by Houston Film Critics Society Awards for Worst Picture and by Scream Awards for Holy Shit Scene of the Year. In 2009 It won Best Special Effects and was nominated for Best Film by the Sitges- Catalonian International film Festival. IN 2010 it was nominated by the Teen Choice Awards for the best Horror/ Thriller film. In 2011 it was nominated for Best Canadian Film by the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards. Finally, in 2011 the film won Best Supporting Actress in a Canadian Film- Delphine Chaneac from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle.
After listing all of the awards the film was nominated for and won I would say that it most definitely has had an impact in the Frankenstein sphere and is doing its job as an appropriation to bring its audiences back to the original text and other Frankenstein adaptations and appropriations.