In the science-fiction thriller Splice, two research scientists — a power couple played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley — work at splicing genetic components into hybrids in a search for new ways to fight disease. When their financial backers move their research in a different direction, the pair push the limits of their skills and secretly create a new, partially human life form.
Director Vincenzo Natali, who devoted years to developing Splice, says of the science behind the story, “The technology is advancing so rapidly, I think it took scientists less time to map the human genome than it took to write the script. How does Splice fit into the world we live in now? I don’t even know what world that is. I don’t think anyone does.”
“What takes place in this movie is not far from the truth,” notes Brody, who stars as Clive. “We’re living in a world in which science fiction is becoming reality, and that gives the film its weight. It’s frightening to a certain extent, to see how precarious things can be, but also exciting because there is potential for wonderful things.”
Along with looking at scientists who do something because they can, Natali also wanted to examine the fantasy of people bonding with something not entirely human. “It has always existed and I was fascinated by the idea that those mythic concepts — mermaids, centaurs, chimeras, human hybrids that have tantalized people’s imaginations for thousands of years — could exist in the real world through new science. While Splice is very much about the vanguard of genetic research, it’s also about things that have been with us since the beginning of time.”
To create that emotional connection, Natali chose to forego CGI to create Dren, casting French actress Delphine Chanéac in the role. Dren does not speak, but Chanéac created a language of trills and purrs by which she communicates. “For me, this is a love story,” Chanéac says. “Dren wants to love and to be loved, but is kept at a distance because she is not normal. She’s quite sensitive and pure, like a child, yet very aggressive at the same time. She can do and feel what she wants to.”
To create Dren’s unique eyes, creature effects designers Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero experimented with contact lenses. After filming, Dren’s eyes were digitally widened.
Producer Guillermo del Toro says of the film, “What I find most scary and shocking in Splice is not the cloning or the genetic manipulation, but the idea that even with all our scientifically advanced backgrounds and sophistication we are still human — we have a complex legacy of instincts and family dynamics and questionable morals. It’s not about the arrogance of man to harness the fire of the gods, but what mankind ultimately does with that fire.”
“Splice” is now showing on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.