Splice (film)

This article is about the film. For the process of splicing film, see film stock.

Final theatrical poster
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Produced by Steve Hoban
Screenplay by
  • Vincenzo Natali
  • Antoinette Terry Bryant
  • Doug Taylor
Story by
  • Vincenzo Natali
  • Antoinette Terry Bryant
Music by Cyrille Aufort
Cinematography Tetsuo Nagata
Edited by Michele Conroy
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • October 6, 2009 (2009-10-06) (Sitges Film Festival)
  • June 4, 2010 (2010-06-04) (United States & Canada)
Running time
104 minutes
Language English
Budget $30 million[1]
Box office $26.9 million[1]

Splice is a 2009 Canadian-French science fiction horror 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] Guillermo del Toro, Don Murphy, and Joel Silver executive produced.


Genetic engineers Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast hope to achieve fame by splicing animal DNA to create hybrids for medical use at the company N.E.R.D. (short for Nucleic Exchange Research and Development). Their work previously yielded Fred, a dog-sized vermiform creature intended as a mate for their female specimen, Ginger. After successfully mating them, Clive and Elsa plan to create a human-animal hybrid that could revolutionize science. Their employers Joan Chorot of N.E.R.D. and William Barlow forbid them to do this. Instead, they are to find and extract proteins used for commercial drug production from Fred and Ginger. Clive and Elsa pursue their own agenda in secret. They develop a viable prepubescent female creature.

Although they had planned to terminate the hybrid before it reached full term, Elsa persuades Clive to let it live. The hybrid subsequently becomes aggressive and stings Elsa several times. The hybrid sheds body parts in an effort to escape when they try to destroy her, but they subdue her. They discover that she is aging at a vastly accelerated rate. Elsa discovers that the creature is undergoing mental development such as that of a young human child. Elsa names the creature "Dren" after the creature spells out NERD, having seen the letters on Elsa's shirt. Elsa subsequently refuses to let Clive refer to her as a "specimen".

After moving Dren to a new location for fear of discovery, they find she has a dangerously high fever. In an attempt to save her they place her in a large industrial sink full of cold water. Clive places a hand around Dren's neck and pushes her under the water, seemingly drowning her. However, it is found that Dren is amphibious, though it is unclear whether Clive knew this, having analysed scans of Dren, or whether he did intend to kill her.

While studying Dren, Elsa and Clive neglect their work with Fred and Ginger. At a highly publicized presentation of their work, Fred and Ginger savagely fight to the death. 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, Gavin, they move her to an isolated farm. There, Dren develops carnivorous tendencies and retractable wings. She grows into adolescence and becomes bored with being locked up in the barn, but Elsa and Clive fear that letting her outside might lead to her discovery. Clive realizes that the human DNA used to make Dren was Elsa's, not from an anonymous donor as Elsa had told him. When Dren assaults Elsa again, Elsa removes Dren's stinger and uses it to synthesize the protein for which they had been searching.

Dren seduces Clive; Elsa discovers them having sex in the barn and becomes upset. Clive accuses Elsa of never wanting a "normal" child because of her fear of losing control; instead she chose to raise one as an experiment, where control could be assured. Deciding the only solution is to terminate Dren, they return to the farm and find Dren already dying.

William Barlow discovers human DNA in Dren's protein samples and arrives to investigate. Elsa tells Barlow that Dren is dead and buried behind the barn. However, a winged, male Dren rises from the grave and attacks the group, killing Barlow and Gavin. The male Dren rapes Elsa, before Clive attacks him. Dren overwhelms Clive, when Elsa attacks with a large rock. Elsa then hesitates, allowing Dren to kill Clive before Elsa finally kills her creation.

Elsa is later informed that Dren's body contained numerous biochemical compounds for which the company has begun filing patents. Joan offers Elsa, now visibly pregnant with Dren's baby, a large sum of money to go through with the pregnancy, which 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, 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.[3] It was aided by Telefilm Canada's funding of US$2.5 million.[6] Filming took place in Toronto 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, Samuel Goldwyn Films,[12] and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Dark Castle Entertainment purchased the US rights to the film and the worldwide rights to any possible sequels in February 2010, thinking they "found the next Paranormal Activity".[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 two other Warner Bros. movies, The Losers and A Nightmare on Elm Street.[17]

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

The film has received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 74% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 184 reviews, with an average score of 6.6/10.[19] The site's critical consensus states: "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 aggregator Metacritic gave the film an average score of 66 out of 100 based on 35 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[20] The film was received harshly by audiences surveyed by CinemaScore during the opening weekend, receiving a D grade.

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] Manohla Dargis' review from The New York Times was highly positive, with stating "Mr. Natali, whose earlier films include “Cube,” hasn’t reinvented the horror genre. But with Splice he has done the next best thing with an intelligent movie that, in between its small boos and an occasional hair-raising jolt, explores chewy issues like bioethics, abortion, corporate-sponsored science, commitment problems between lovers and even Freudian-worthy family dynamics." Andrew O'Hehir from Salon.com said "Dark, sleek, funny and creepily infectious, the genetic-engineering horror-comedy Splice is a dynamic comeback vehicle for Canadian genre director Vincenzo Natali, who made a splash a few years ago with Cube." Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A- and stated "The outstanding creature effects by Howard Berger only get more astonishing as Splice splits into an eerie horror picture, then divides again into something out of Rosemary's Baby." Roger Ebert from Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 and stated "The script blends human psychology with scientific speculation and has genuine interest until it goes on autopilot with one of the chase scenes Hollywood now permits few films to end without." Peter Travers from Rolling Stone said "Played as a child by Abigail Chu and as an adult by Delphine Chanéac, Dren morphs into a special-effects miracle, sexy and scary in equal doses." and gave the film 3 out of 4. Lou Lumenick from New York Post described the film as "Smart, scary — and at times very funny — horror movie."

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

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.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Splice (2010) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  2. "New Hi-Res Images From 'Splice'".
  3. 1 2 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. 1 2 Marise Strauss (2007-10-05). "Natali taps Polley, Brody for Splice". PlaybackOnline.ca. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  5. Rotten, Ryan (2007-04-25). "EXCL: Natali Talks Splice!". ShockTillYouDrop.com. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  6. "Telefilm Canada announces funding for 11 English-language projects". Macleans. Montreal. Canadian Press. 2007-12-20. Archived from the original on 2 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  7. Lyus, Jon (2010-07-22). "Exclusive Interview – Vincenzo Natali Talks Splice, Sex and The Monster of Neuromancer". HeyUGuys.co.uk. 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. 1 2 "Splice Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2016-06-07.
  20. "Splice Film Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  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.
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