Director, Vincenzo Natali, gave us a glimpse of what could go right and wrong with bio-engineering, splicing and dicing DNAs of fauna and flora and creating new designer DNAs to produce designer proteins, so that human could use them to rebuild, or regenerate. So the theory goes, and the film delivers two prototypes, a male and a female, according to the natural orders I guess. I like that no stone is un-turned here; at the shareholders’ meeting, Ginger and Fred are showcased, but Ginger has turned into Bob… which is not far-fetched cause some microbes, insects, reptiles, and mammals, do change sex in their life cycles. Yes, a blood bath assured; share price plummeted I bet.
Backtrack. Two genius scientists, Clive Nicoli(Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast(Sarah Polley), funded by multi-billion pharmaceutical company to come up with designer proteins. Phase 1 was successful, but was a bit of a blur between the discussion of phase 2 and shutting down the facility…I guess, the corporation wants full control of the project, and the scientists are pissed and can’t take their ideas anywhere else, cause they didn’t file for patent protections.
Free association: sci-en-tists…….mad!
The team proceeds and tests with human embryo. At the last 5 seconds, rewards and fame trump moral and ethics… Elsa is a yes, Clive too, the embryo goes into fecundation.
I liked the first half, because it was asking a bigger picture of commitment and parenthood, in other words, are we naturally born to be parents? The classic male perspective is yes, cause there is little investment physically, other than the initial orgasmic transfers. For woman, it is always more complicated: psychological more than psychical. The question whether she will be a good mom is always in the back of her mind. The film displays that nuisance and ambivalence quickly after DREN (Delphine Chanéac)is born: father… awkward, mother… loving! As natural as air, I guess. So for Elsa, despite her reservation of having kids, DREN turns on Elsa’s motherhood gene. To draw us in, DREN responses to mom better than dad instinctively. The parallelism is really nicely done here: what do you do if your kid is born abnormal? what do you do if she is rebellious? what do you do if she is sick? the list goes on, but to kick it up a notch, when do you decide to kill it given it is an undocumented species?
It could have been a philosophical piece, but it stops short and delivers us the usual monster-tale: can you handle the truth?
The second half is predictable. DREN is part human, so she is suffering from isolation, i.e., attachment problem, and because of that, she is also yearning for “Love”, which turns sexual at puberty. As expected, the Elektra complex! Daddy is dumb, it happens, forgive me! Mom cut her tail to teach her a lesson! (At least in this case, no jail time, divorce, children services, psychological counselling. Just an appendage for an appendage).
One problem I have is that there are just too many metamorphosis. Sure, you can argue that the designer DNAs are self-corrective and adaptive, but I still believe in Darwinism, and that evolution takes times. Sure, the director expedites it so that we can see the life-cycle, still… The ending was weak! The creature, the symbol of it is just a bit …blah, IMO: Wings and a tail, what do you conjure?
Honestly, I will watch Species (1995) again before I will Splice. Pretty much the same premises when we distill the science out of the equation: make babies while we are horny.