Undeterred by the company's unwillingness to delve into human genetics, Clive and Elsa secretly inject one of their creations with human DNA just to see if conception is possible. Turns out, not only is it possible, but the rate at which the resulting creature grows derails their initial plan to destroy it immediately following conception. The human-animal hybrid, which Elsa names Dren ("nerd" backwards), is about the size of a human baby and resembles an alien crossed with a rodent and a Tyrannosaurus Rex, with wide-set eyes, a long tail, tiny arms and a bird-like squawking speech pattern.
Clive immediately regrets their decision and contemplates killing Dren, but Elsa's maternal instinct kicks in (ironic, given her reluctance to have a baby with him), and soon they're feeding and caring for her. Yes, "her." As she grows exponentially, it becomes clear that Dren is developing female characteristics, and when she reaches adulthood, she looks almost completely human -- that is, except for the tail, birdlike legs that bend forward and a complete lack of hair. She can't speak, but Elsa teaches her to read, spell and understand what's being said to her.
But it's not all one big happy family. Clive and Elsa have to keep her existence a secret from their coworkers, and their frantic efforts strain their relationship to the breaking point. And then there's the bigger issue of what to do with Dren. As she matures, she becomes increasingly curious and, they soon discover, dangerous. As human as she looks, Dren has an animal side, and when her instincts kick in, Clive and Elsa are forced to deal with the repercussions of what they've done.
The End Result
Central to the movie's success is the transcendent creature design, courtesy of Dan Ouellette (who's contribution was controversially dimished in the credits) and Amro Attia. Dren is alternately sexy and creepy, animalistic and human, pitiable and imposing, and her constantly evolving look provides twist after twist as she adapts to her environment with a range of evolutionary tricks. The CGI creature effects are amazingly seamless for a modestly budgeted pic and combine with actress Delphine Chanéac's often hypnotic performance to create one of the most spellbinding movie monsters in recent memory.
Vincenzo Natali has explored the nature of identity in most of his previous films, and Splice again broaches the topic as Dren comes to terms with what she is, and Clive and Elsa must figure out what place she has in the world in general and in their lives in particular. It's potentially heavy stuff, but the script never becomes overly dark or cerebral; there are even surprising moments of humor that find comedy in the tension-packed situation.