The sci-fi thriller Splice is, not surprisingly, about genetic engineering, and the backdrop is this: The two brilliant geneticists (and incidentally a couple) Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) have succeeded in creating a hybrid animal based on the DNA of various animals/organisms. When they go against their employers regulations and add human DNA to the equation as well, they wander into a fascinating - and potentially dangerous territory.
At first glance, this outline may seem like the somewhat more sober and considerate sibling of Species. And well, so it does at second glance, actually, because the director of this film, Vincenzo Natali (the man behind Cube), has the sensibility to not get sucked into rushed genre conventions and cheap tricks. The film unfolds intelligently, takes the scientific working environment into consideration, and lets both Brody, Polley and their increasingly more human "offspring" develop their own individual motivations and psyche. Some of the key to how well this works is the acting by Brody and Polley - both intelligent performers with the ability and willingness to pull potential stock characters out of the mire and make them real. Brody is particularly effective, but Polley's task is harder, because she has to justify her characters somewhat simplified motivation for creating and caring so deeply about Dren. It's all believable enough to work as true and serious science-fiction, however, and not a simple sci-fi fantasy, in which the science is reduced and the fiction overdone, which has been a tendency in this genre in later years. That is until the predicatable and somewhat cliched ending ultimately lets us down.