Vincenzo Natali’s science fiction Frankenstein tale of 2010 may and will eventually be misunderstood by a greater portion of the movie audiences expecting a simple monster flick about an experiment gone awry. While in essence it is just that, “Splice” is much more an on the nose satire of parenting and the intervening of the drug industry raising children, and the dynamic between father and daughter and mother and daughter. Ultimately while sometimes absurd and just filled with dark twisted humor, “Splice” offers the question if children are born and develop in to chaotic monsters, or if their parents and their own insecurities and misery eventually turn them in to such beings. What starts out as two scientists forming a bond with their own special creation turns in to a battle between two feminine species for the love of a man who begins to form unusual and abstract feelings for the both of them.
Natali’s science fiction thriller is more an observation of the relationships between such beings taking time out to stage such awkward scenes as when Brody’s character Clive teaches teenage Dren how to dance to ragtime music on a phonograph, and when Clive realizes in the middle of a dance lesson that he’s formed a lust for the strangely erotic androgynous Dren who he once viewed as something of an experiment he could easily snuff out if she became too difficult. As the tale unravels we see a more interesting struggle of two girls, one of whom is ready to take over for her creator and win the heart of her male aggressor, while the other has seemingly implanted her own aspects in to the creation and decides to wage war as her sanity fades and she begins to feel more and more threatened by Dren’s sexual aggression and curiosity.
Normally a Frankenstein tale such as this would be quick to dole out the roles of antagonist and protagonist, but the positions constantly shift as Dren is a small experiment gone awry who becomes the protagonist while Polley’s wicked performance as Elsa goes from maternal and loving to insane and often times megalomaniacal. He ultimate motive for Dren remains very ambiguous throughout the story as she posits many pieces of the puzzle for the audience to assemble. As Dren (the lovely Delphine Chanéac) finds her role as the female counterpart in the triangle going from child, to angry teenager, to hormonally charged sexual being whose own unusual features and raw unabashed sexual curiosity keeps Clive coming back to discover if he wants to be a paternal protector or a lover.
Dren is an utterly fascinating character one who is both enticing and rather lethal with intentions you can never pin point no matter how much you think you may know her in certain instances. Where vulnerability enters, her temper tantrums leave a path of innocent bodies, and once she forms in to this unique creature, she is fully aware of her motives. Like Dren, our human characters know what their objective is in the beginning and as they blossom, they’re emotionally and physically confused to where their loyalties and urges lie. Dren is unfortunately a symbol for the mysteries of humanity and when posed as a combination of DNA from other species it becomes almost a Lovecraftian figure.
Something of grace and beauty that’s also insanely deadly with a talon like stinger that poses as a form of protection and as a phallic element that holds the key to what Dren’s ultimate intent is in the end that isn’t revealed until the final scene. What dumbfounded these geniuses amounts to nothing more than simple human function. With the shadow of the pharmaceutical industry as a symbol for the cause of Dren’s erratic tendencies, “Splice” is a rather engrossing and compelling dissection of parenting in the hands of two utterly mad individuals whose own lack of identity lead them down a path of pure hell and unbridled violence. It’s a shame director Natali’s exploration of the parental unit wasn’t accepted by mainstream audiences, because it’s a very entertaining and twisted science fiction tale with engrossing performances, and morbid humor that bends the conventions of the love triangle and keeps us guessing every minute.