In Splice, Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley play rebel biochemists in love, whose supposedly endearing cuteness is displayed through their embryo pairings, which are named after Hollywood couples. We first find Clive (Brody) and Elsa (Polley) working to develop disease-curing protein enzymes through the creation of animal hybrids. All goes swimmingly until Elsa illegally fertilizes an embryo made of human and animal DNA, and the resultant creature — a rapidly growing girl who speaks in barnyard sounds, sprouts wings and walks on claws — threatens to destroy the scientists’ progress, marriage and the future of genetic engineering.
Despite their characters’ professions, Brody and Polley lack chemistry and basic likability in this fourth feature from Vincenzo Natali, director of the brilliantly existential sci-fi puzzlers Cube and Nothing. This unconvincing cautionary tale, by contrast, is an unintentional comedy whose initial stabs at social relevance and Cronenbergian medical adventurousness yield to bargain-basement horror schlock and a pervy two-fer: Brody’s inevitable sex scene with the womanimal (Delphine Chaneac) satisfies both the underage and bestiality markets, finally dragging this pseudo-intellectual jalopy to the late-night pay-cable scrap heap where it belongs.