The Five Most Unsettling Moments in Splice


If you haven’t seen Splice, stop right here. Close your browser, turn off your computer and go watch it.

This article assumes that you’ve seen Splice and are up for a discussion on just how awesome — and oh so freaky — it really is. Director Vincenzo Natali has taken what’s essentially an old-fashioned Frankenstein story and turned it into a psychosexual horror show that isn’t afraid to go to all sorts of extremes. It’s what Species probably wishes it were. It’s kind of like Re-Animator, except it has no interest in amusing you. It wants to thrill you, shock you and make you squirm. And it succeeds.

The premise is simple: two young, attractive and brilliant geneticists, Elsa and Clive (Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody), cook up a human-animal hybrid named Dren. Dren is sexy in that weird, uncomfortable way that sci-fi horror films are sometimes able to pull off (you know what we’re talking about — Dario Argento did a bang-up job of it recently in his Masters of Horror episode, “Jenifer”). And she makes for all sorts of trouble.

That’s the story in a nutshell (or a DNA strand, as it were). Splice is not an easy movie to watch. It’s freaky and weird and hot and sometimes truly terrifying. Here are the film’s most unsettling moments.

5. First appearance of “Child Dren”

The “Infant” and various “Toddler” forms of Dren are certainly unsettling with their bizarre worm-like shapes and strange movements, but their effect is somewhat diminished by the knowledge that they’re either puppets or CG creations (or both). What makes the “Child” version of Dren more unsettling than her predecessors is the knowledge that you’re watching a flesh-and-blood child actor (with a heavy CG assist, of course). Having an actual actor portray supernatural characters goes a long way in the “suspension of disbelief” department — it’s the leap from “toddler” to “child” where the strange Dren becomes real, and a real threat.

4. Dren and Clive Have Sex

The fact that Dren and Adrien Brody have sex isn’t the unsettling part. It was pretty much inevitable from the start that their intense (and UNNATURAL!) coupling was going to happen, and happen… well, graphically. But there are a few surprises in store while the two of them go at it in the barn. We’re not going to go into too much detail, but the moments involving Dren revealing that she’s grown back her stinger and spreading her wings are rather, uh, memorable. Yeah, there’s never been a sex scene like this. You can’t look away, and you kinda don’t want to.

3. Dren “Evolves”

You knew this was coming, too, but pre-knowledge doesn’t make it any less upsetting when it happens. After Elsa and Clive find Dren’s body floating in the water tank, they think she’s dead and they bury her. Ha! She’s not dead. In fact, she’s not a “she” any more, either. She is now a “He,” and He is really pissed off. He-Dren kills Elsa and Clive’s boss and Clive’s brother… but that’s just the beginning…

2. He-Dren Attacks Clive

Oh, horrible, horrible! Once they were lovers, now they are bitter enemies. After killing his boss and brother, He-Dren focuses his violent rage on Clive himself, dragging him into the briney deep of a freezing pond. Seeing someone immersed in freezing water always gets an audience reaction (being cold and wet is awful, after all), though having that person immersed in freezing water because of a human-animal hybrid that was once that person’s sexual partner back when the hybrid was female is an entirely different situation altogether (and certainly even colder). Guess it just wasn’t gonna work out for Dren and Clive.

1. Elsa Keeps the Baby

Splice ends on quite a jaw-dropping note, when it’s revealed that Elsa is being paid and compensated handsomely for agreeing to keep whatever it is that’s now growing inside her as a result of a certain incident involving He-Dren. Oh, what Elsa will do for science, especially after Clive got stung to death.

What’s most unsettling about the film’s final moment isn’t that there’s going to be a sequel that actually shows us whatever horrible thing it is that’s growing inside of Sarah Polley’s tummy. It’s that there probably won’t be, which means we’re left to our imagination as to what that thing is, and that’s a thousand times worse than anything the filmmakers could come up with.

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