Dissecting Splice

I watched Splice recently and I have mixed feelings about it.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

It was released in 2009/2010, but I didn’t watch it until now. I thought it was going to be a simple sci-fi type show about genetics, somewhere between Alien and Jurassic Park but it was all that and then some. I don’t even quite know how to start this review.

Hmm… I guess the first thing I want to comment on is the speed of the show. It was moderately slow at first, sped up in the middle and then felt rushed at the end. With no unexpected twists, it was relatively easy to follow and predict. I got every single prediction right, even down to the ending scene. The plot was obvious, but since it wasn’t a mystery or detective show, I didn’t mind that. It was very weird when it suddenly shifted from pure sci-fi to thriller starting with Dren rising from the dead and killing all three males. Even the part when Dren killed and ate a small animal could have been passed off as a genetic trait thing, not a psychopath indicator.

The second half of the show sped up a little once Dren became a small humanoid female instead of an amorphous bird-like creature. That was when it became interesting for me. I was a little weirded out at the cuteness, intelligence and childlike behaviour Dren exhibited. It was hard to stop thinking of Dren as a little girl and every time I unconsciously did so, the show would slap me in the face with her coiled legs, tail and four-fingered hands. I didn’t even mind her baldness or barely-human facial features.

Even though the pace was moderately slow, I still felt like there was a lot of information crammed into the show and there’s definitely a lot of design space left to explore. Splice could easily have been a shorter film with multiple sequels, which may or may not have involved Dren, even though it was killed in the end. I mean, after Clive stabbed it, it could have escaped to recover and come back stronger and more bloodthirsty, not unlike how the Xenomorphs in Alien adapt to their enemies and use their strengths against them. Dren was already shown to have accelerated healing and at least limb regeneration, almost to the point of it being a full on healing factor.

Oh. I see why they didn’t do that. I guess that might have been a little too much of an Alien ripoff.

After the show, I read the Wiki for Spice and found that the director, Vincenzo Natali, said there would probably not be a sequel, even though the ending seems to be a cliff hanger.

BUT WHYYYYY???

There’s so much design space to explore. For example, Elsa’s mutant child could grow, escape and start a whole new species by raping humans. Maybe even suggest that Dren is a very very very distant ancestor of the Xenomorphs. That would push the horror/thriller aspect even further.

Perhaps how about explaining how Dren grew the poisonous stinger back, or even how she he it grew it in the first place, given that none of it’s genetic components have “predatory characteristics”? That stinger is clearly an offensive tool. What about going the “government wants to create a secret bio-weapon-slash-perfect-soldier” theme?

They could have gone off the book too. Instead of turning Dren into a predatory creature with a vengeance in the end, they could have made it a very weird coming-of-age sequel, focused on Clive and Elsa teaching Dren to live as a human. Because, you know, for sweetness and family friendliness.

Okay nevermind, scratch that, that’s too weird.

Or is it?

I’m referencing the scene where Clive and Dren have sex, which was wrong on so many levels. Let’s start with moral incest. Forget that Dren itself is a big freaking moral dilemma and focus on the fact that Clive literally raised her and loves Dren as a daughter. Then we have the whole cross species thing, which takes beastiality to a whole new level. Why do the dirty with one non-human when you could do it with a human plus bird plus rabbit plus kangaroo plus whatever else Dren is made from at the same time?

That is one extreme fetish.

Don’t even get me started on the whole adultery thing. Is it adultery if you do it with a non-human? If yes, does masturbation or sex dolls count? Heck, is it adultery if you screw your wife’s clone? Because Dren’s human DNA comes from Elsa, which makes her a part clone.

I’m bordering dangerously on twin territory now, but before I move on, just let it sit in your mind that since Dren became male, Clive did a tranny.

There’s a whole lot of possibilities with Dren’s mutations. It’s unclear to me if Dren was evolving because of her genes, or if her mutations were the result of a type of rapid evolution in response to her environment. Like Darwin’s ability in X-men, or the Xenomorphs ability to draw genetic traits from their hosts? (I know I keep referencing Alien. I would apologise for that, but that would be a lie.)

Even if they wanted to explore the whole monster thriller genre, some of the mutations were just plain weird. Like her amphibious lungs. Side note: Clive was clearly trying to drown Dren, no argument there. Back to the lungs. Why amphibious lungs? Wouldn’t retractable gills be more logical? Or even permeable skin, allowing her to partially absorb oxygen in water, like amphibians?

The wings and frills on her back were also totally unnecessary. Dren is already a master of movement on land, with aquatic abilities. Giving her sky control is just overpowered. She doesn’t need to fly when she can already do Hulk jumps. I would have accepted her wings and frills if they were merely a way of maximizing skin surface area for her permeable skin to breathe in water, or even warming herself in the sun, like the dorsal sails of some animals do.

Give her a scorpion tail? Sure. Make her hyper agile and flexible? Awesome. Superhuman strength? Cool. Predatory instincts and a desire for vengeance? A shoe in. Play on the feminism “fear” that women could be just as strong as or even stronger than men? Okay. But wings? No. Wings were just over the top for me.

I guess when it comes to Dren, or bio-engineering, for that matter, the sky’s the limit.

-Jace

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