Splice is about genetics, but this movie's title could also refer to its makeup: part sci-fi, part horror, part monster movie, part family drama. If only the parts worked better together...

Clive Nicoli (Adrian Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) are famous scientists (and a romantic couple) whose work involves splicing together genetic material from different animals. Their biggest success are a pair of sluglike organisms called Fred and Ginger, and the scientists want to take the next step and add human d.n.a. into the mix. Financier Joan Chorat (Simona Maicanescu) doesn't want the potential controversy, and scientist-fearful-of-losing-funding William Barlow (David Hewlett) doesn't want to rock the boat. So Clive and Elsa work in secret. The result is Dren.

Dren is a humanoid creature, rapidly aging so the scientists (and audience) can see it go from a newborn to young child (Abigail Chu) to young woman (Delphine Chaneac) quickly. Dren is fast, strong, and has a prehensile tail with a deadly stinger at the end. Clive wants to get rid of Dren, but Elsa wants her: first to see exactly what they accomplished, then from more maternal urges. But as Dren gets moved from hiding place to hiding place (first in the lab, then in a barn at Elsa's country home), stress develops between Clive and Elsa. And could Dren actually be dangerous?

There's a lot happening in Splice -- genetics and ethics discussions, monster chases, a lab where massive amounts of equipment can be moved to and used in secret with no one noticing -- but most of it is neither interesting nor exciting. Dren shifts from near-alien creature to object of sympathy to threatening menace depending on the movie's mood, giving Splice a feeling of inconsistency. (Is it a science project or a person? Should we kill it? Will it kill us if we don't?) The actors here are all relegated to b-movie stereotypes, and the big finale isn't that exciting. (The "surprise" at the end can be seen from a mile away too.) There are lots of movies about scientists playing God and paying the price, and Splice is a weak one.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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