Though the word chimera is steeped in mythological origins, it has become a term used to describe delusional ideals or impossible fantasies. We get a little of both in Vincenzo Natali's latest film, Splice, which is as much of a hybrid film as the creature at the heart of the story. Natali takes the standard creature flick and offers up his own spin on the mad scientist subgenre -- forcing us to ask questions about accountability and the uneasy relationship between science and ethics. When the boundaries between the creator and the created are blurred and our innate curiosity runs unchecked, what happens to our humanity? It's in the examination of these ideas that Splice becomes as much of a psychological and philosophical drama as a horror film -- despite what Warner Bros.' marketing campaign would have you believe.
Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) are two biochemists (and also a couple) who have developed a gene-splicing technique that has enabled them to create a new species they have lovingly dubbed Fred and Ginger. The pair tries to convince the corporation they work for that it's time to push ahead with their project and introduce human DNA into the splicing technique as a way to cure some of the world's most devastating diseases. When the company denies their request, the duo rebel and set out to produce a viable hybrid and eventually succeed. While Clive is satisfied to leave the sample on ice until they can proceed with the corporation's backing, Elsa makes a brash move and eventually convinces him that they should fertilize it and bring it to gestation. Even though the couple has no intention of letting the sample grow to full-term, it starts to -- rapidly. The result is Dren -- playfully named after the NERD Corporation who they hide her from. At first Dren appears to be an amorphous blob on legs, but eventually she develops into a stunning creature -- as feminine as she is foreign. As Elsa becomes more attached to Dren, things start to go horribly wrong and the true nature of all is laid bare.