Splice (film)

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Final theatrical poster
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Produced by Steven Hoban
Guillermo del Toro (executive)
Don Murphy
Joel Silver
Screenplay by Vincenzo Natali
Antoinette Terry Bryant
Doug Taylor
Story by Vincenzo Natali
Antoinette Terry Bryant
Starring Adrien Brody
Sarah Polley
Delphine Chanéac
Music by Cyrille Aufort
Cinematography Tetsuo Nagata
Editing by Michele Conroy
Studio Dark Castle Entertainment
Copperheart Entertainment
Senator Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
(United States)
Optimum Releasing
(United Kingdom)
Madman Entertainment
(Australia & New Zealand)
Release dates
  • October 6, 2009 (2009-10-06) (Sitges Film Festival)
  • June 4, 2010 (2010-06-04) (United States & Canada)
Running time 104 minutes
Country Canada
Language English
Budget $30 million[1]
Box office $26,857,459[1]

Splice is a 2009 Canadian-French science fiction thriller film directed by Vincenzo Natali and starring Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chanéac. The story concerns experiments in genetic engineering being done by a young scientific couple, who attempt to introduce human DNA into their work of splicing animal genes.[2]


Genetic engineers Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) hope to achieve fame by splicing together the DNA of different animals to create hybrid animals for medical use. This has recently yielded Fred, a dog-sized worm-like creature intended as a mate for their original female specimen, Ginger. After their success, Clive and Elsa plan to create a human hybrid that could revolutionize science. Joan Chorot (Simona Maicanescu) of their sponsoring company, N.E.R.D. Pharmaceuticals (Nucleic Exchange Research and Development), forbids them from doing this. Instead, their department is assigned to find and extract proteins from the creatures that they have already created. Secretly, Clive and Elsa conduct their own private experiments, blending human DNA with that of other animals.

They initially plan on terminating the hybrid before it reaches full term, but Elsa persuades Clive to let it continue to grow. Prior to its 'birth', the hybrid becomes aggressive and stings Elsa several times. They attack the hybrid, and it sheds its outer shell in an attempt to escape. After anesthetizing and examining the creature, they discover that she is aging at a vastly accelerated rate. As time passes, the creature grows and learns. After Clive attempts to drown the creature, the scientists learn that she is capable of breathing amphibiously and can live underwater. Elsa names the creature (played by Delphine Chanéac) Dren, and refuses to let Clive refer to her as a "specimen."

While studying Dren, Elsa and Clive neglect their work with Fred and Ginger. At the highly publicized "unveiling" of the two specimens, Fred and Ginger savagely fight until both are dead. It is subsequently discovered that Ginger had spontaneously changed to a male, but Elsa and Clive failed to notice because they were focused on Dren. Elsa forms a motherly bond with Dren. After Dren attacks Clive's brother/fellow lab technician Gavin (Brandon McGibbon), they move her to Elsa's late mother's farm. There, Dren develops carnivorous tendencies and eats a rabbit.

As Dren grows into adolescence, she becomes bored with being locked up in the barn and wants to go outside, but Elsa and Clive fear revealing her existence. Clive realizes that the human DNA used to make Dren was Elsa's, rather than being from a "Jane Doe" as Elsa had told him. Dren assaults Elsa, who ties Dren up and removes the stinger from her tail. She then uses the living tissue from the stinger to isolate and synthesize the protein for which they had been searching.

Soon afterwards, Dren seduces Clive, and they have sex. Elsa catches them in the act and storms off home. Clive follows and starts a heated argument, accusing Elsa of never having wanted a child because she was afraid of losing control; instead she chose to raise one as an experiment, where control could be assured. They decide to terminate the experiment, but, on returning to the farm, they find Dren dying. After burying her behind the barn, their boss William Barlow (David Hewlett) arrives with Gavin. Having found human DNA in the samples that Elsa worked with, Barlow had confronted Gavin about the possibility of a human hybrid, and learned of Dren's existence. Elsa tells Barlow that Dren is dead; as he does not believe her, Elsa offers him a spade saying that he can dig up her body, which is buried behind the barn.

While they are talking, Dren, who has transformed into a winged male, rises from the grave and attacks the group. Swooping through the air, Dren picks up and kills Barlow, presumably by slashing his throat, leaving his mutilated body hanging from a tree, much to Gavin's, Clive's and Elsa's horror. Dren then swoops on Gavin. While searching for Gavin's body, Clive drops his torch into a pond. As he tries to recover it, he is pulled into the water by Dren. After helping Clive get out of the pond, Elsa sees Dren emerge from the water and flees in panic. Dren soon catches up with Elsa and starts to rape her. Clive thrusts a sharp stick into Dren's back; in pain, Dren stands up. Elsa picks up a stone and hits Dren on the head. Dren lashes out with his stinger, killing Clive. Elsa hits Dren in the head again, finally killing him.

Later, Joan informs Elsa that Dren's body contained numerous biochemical compounds for which the company has begun filing patents. She offers Elsa a large sum of money to continue her experiments. The pregnant Elsa accepts.



Splice was written by director Vincenzo Natali and screenwriters Antoinette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor.[3] The script was originally meant to follow up Natali's Cube (1997), but the budget and restricted technology hindered the project. In 2007, the project entered active development as a 75% Canadian and 25% French co-production, receiving a budget of $26 million.[4] The director described the film: "Splice is very much about our genetic future and the way science is catching up with much of the fiction out there. [This] is a serious film and an emotional one. And there's sex... Very unconventional sex. The centerpiece of the movie is a creature which goes through a dramatic evolutionary process. The goal is to create something shocking but also very subtle and completely believable."[5]

In October 2007, actors Brody and Polley were cast into the lead roles. Production began the following November in Toronto, Ontario.[3] It was aided by Telefilm Canada's funding of US$2.5 million.[6] Filming took place in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario and concluded in February 2008.[4]

In an interview, when asked if there would be any sequels, Natali responded "I don't think so. It could happen, but it would have required the movie to make a lot of money in the States, but even though the ending of the film appears to be setting up a sequel, that was never my intention. All of my films end with a question, and somewhat ambiguously, and they always imply the beginning of another story, I like to leave the audience with something to ponder."[7]


The film premiered on October 6, 2009 at the Sitges Film Festival,[8] where it won "Best Special Effects" and was in the running for "Best Film", and was part of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.[9] After a bidding war with Apparition,[10] The Weinstein Company,[11] Newmarket Films, First Look Studios, and Samuel Goldwyn Films,[12] Dark Castle Entertainment purchased the film in February 2010.[13][14] The film received a wide release in the United States on June 4, 2010, with Warner Bros. as distributor.[15][16] The trailer was attached to The Losers and A Nightmare on Elm Street.[17]

Home media[edit]

Splice was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 5, 2010 in the USA and on November 29, 2010 in the UK.[18]


Critical reception[edit]

The film has received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 75% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 178 reviews, with an average score of 6.6/10.[19] The critical consensus is: "It doesn't take its terrific premise quite as far as it should, but Splice is a smart, well-acted treat for horror fans."[19] Review aggregate Metacritic awarded the film an average score of 65 out of 100 based on 34 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[20]

The Flick Cast said "Splice is funny, frightening, and shocking all at once. It's a disturbing commentary on where science is heading, and it is not easily shaken off once you leave the theatre."[21]

Richard Roeper panned Splice, calling it one of the worst movies of 2010. He gave the film a D+ calling it "ridiculous" but giving it credit for trying to be different.[22]

Box office[edit]

The film opened on June 4, 2010 in wide release to a $7.4 million opening weekend in 2,450 theaters, averaging $3,014 per theater.[1]


Splice won the 2011 Telefilm Golden Box Office Award, CAD$40,000, for being the highest-grossing Canadian feature film in English in 2010.[23]

The film was nominated for Best Science Fiction Film at 37th Saturn Awards, but lost to Inception, another film from Warner Bros..


  1. ^ a b c "Splice (2010) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 8 June 2010. 
  2. ^ "New Hi-Res Images From 'Splice'". 
  3. ^ a b Borys Kit (2007-10-04). "A creature feature for Polley, Brody". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  4. ^ a b Marise Strauss (2007-10-05). "Natali taps Polley, Brody for Splice". Playback. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  5. ^ Ryan Rotten (2007-04-25). "EXCL: Natali Talks Splice!". ShockTillYouDrop.com. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  6. ^ "Telefilm Canada announces funding for 11 English-language projects". Canadian Press. 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  7. ^ Jon Lyus (2010-07-22). "Exclusive Interview – Vincenzo Natali Talks Splice, Sex and The Monster of Neuromancer". HeyUGuys. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  8. ^ "Sitges Film Festival - Splice". Sitges Film Festival. 
  9. ^ "Sundance '10: 'Splice' Director Vincenzo Natali Blogs". 
  10. ^ Gregg Goldstein (2010-10-13). "Service deals becoming a hit at Sundance". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  11. ^ "Sundance '10: Bidding War Over Vincenzo Natali's 'Splice'". 
  12. ^ "Sundance 2010: Splice Object of Service Deal Bidding Battle". 
  13. ^ Mike Fleming. "Big Sundance Deal Getting Done: 'Splice'". Deadline. 
  14. ^ "Splice Set for U.S. Release: Summer date set for Brody sci-fi flick". IGN. 19 March 2010. 
  15. ^ "Dark Castle Making Massive Commitment to 'Splice' Release?". 
  16. ^ "Horror Takes on the Summer Blockbusters! Splice Set For Summer Release from Warner". 
  17. ^ "Official Teaser Poster for 'Splice' Introduces Dren". 
  18. ^ "Splice". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-10-06. 
  19. ^ a b "Splice Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  20. ^ "Splice Film Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  21. ^ "Splice Review". The Flick Cast. Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  22. ^ "Splice Review - RichardRoeper.com". Retrieved 15 February 2011. 
  23. ^ "Sci-fi horror Splice earns Telefilm box office prize". CBC News. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2011. "Splice, Vincenzo Natali's slick sci-fi horror film starring Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody, has won Telefilm's fledgling Golden Box Office Award." 

External links[edit]