Splice (Blu-ray Review)

This is one film that I thought I would never have the pleasure of reviewing on the Blu-ray format.  I’m glad to be mistaken.  Why?  Simply put, the more I have distanced myself from my summertime theatrical experience of Splice, the more I want to see it again.  You know that old saying; absence makes the heart grow fonder?  Well believe it or not, that’s exactly the relationship I have with Vincenzo Natali’s Splice.  It’s one of those films that pushes the boundaries and shocks you. You walk out of the theater thinking what the hell was I just a witness to?  Months go by and you think back to this film.  Can I handle another dose of this film?  Am I worried about liking it too much the second time around?  Was I too hard on my initial reaction to the shocking events that transpired in Splice?  These questions and more are the reason I decided to tackle the feature once again on the Blu-ray format.  Come on.  I will take you with me on the journey.


And I thought I had seen it all… Ah, Splice, words can’t even describe the disturbing visions I still have floating around in my head this second time around.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  I think it’s a good thing.  Whenever a filmmaker can make you leave the theater and think about his or her film afterwards for weeks to come, I think they did a stupendous job in drafting the story they wanted to tell and get across on the big screen.  It’s been several months now since my initial theatrical viewing of the film and the shocking events are actually still hard to swallow and talk about, even after my second helping.  If a comment from my wife after we initially saw the film like “I don’t even want to see you laying next to the dog” doesn’t conjure up perverse thoughts in your head, then I’m not sure what I can get away with saying here.  I want to divulge so many things, but I cannot, in fear of spoiling it all for you.  Such is the hardship of being a movie reviewer at times.  Woe is I, right?  LOL.

Splice is a science fiction film written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, produced by Steve Hoban and Guillermo Del Toro and stars Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley.  So right from the start, it has that much going for it already.  And then there’s the premise.  And I must admit.  The premise is pretty damn cool.  And that’s exactly what made me eagerly anticipate this film for so long before its motion picture release.  Just in case you have no idea what I’m talking about, Splice tells the tragic tale of two young scientists/lovers who secretly explore the realm of possibilities achievable via the splicing of animal genes and human DNA, all in the name of science and medicine, but of course.

Interestingly enough, Splice was originally meant to follow up Natali’s Cube in 1997, but the budget and restricted technology at the time derailed the project.  Hmm… sounds familiar.  Wasn’t James Cameron’s Avatar in a similar situation back in the 1990’s?  Anyway, the film originally made its debut at the Sitges Film Festival on October 6, 2009 and was also part of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.  After a studio bidding war, Dark Castle emerged victorious with the help of Warner Brothers as a distributor.

So now that you know the origin of the film and a little bit of the premise what else do you want to know?  And are you sure you want to know?  Splice is like opening up Pandora’s Box.  Once you look inside, you will never be able to forget its contents.  A day after my wife and I saw it in the theater, I texted her and asked her if the shocking visions conjured in Splice have left her head as of yet and all I got was a one-word reply, “No.”

As I mentioned before, Splice tells the tale of two young genetic engineers (Brody and Polley) who dabble in something that many might deem quite immoral.  They are in the business of, you guessed it, gene splicing.  After their latest round of hybrids were successful, they seek permission to carry on their research using human DNA.  They promise the pharmaceutical company, who funds their research, that they can be on the forefront of this new revolutionary breakthrough in science and medicine and that they confidently believe they can deliver.  Hmm… did we ever hear this plotline before?  Me thinks so, but wait… it does get better!  Despite being told no, the two scientists secretly create and birth a new form of life, a human hybrid.  Unable to terminate the life of this creature, they go on to name her Dren.  By the way, that’s “nerd” spelled backwards.  Dren learns and grows at an accelerated rate.  Pressured with the stress of constantly trying to hide her from others, the scientists not only observe and learn from Dren’s amazing abilities, but they also form an emotional bond with the creature.  That’s always a strict no, no.  Well, let’s just say that Dren becomes more than a handful for the couple.  Alright, I’m exaggerating.  She becomes a living nightmare and that’s all I’m going to say.

But what I will say is this.  If you decide to give this Blu-ray disc a spin and you have kids, please do society a favor and wait until they are asleep to before partaking in a viewing.  I beg of you.  Its rated-R for a reason folks.  There are a small handful of scenes that will disgust some and totally turnoff others.  Due to my reviewer pledge to never divulge spoilers, I’m going to keep my non-disclosure oath alive here and leave it at that.  However, I can honestly say, never was an Act 2 Plot Point ever more shocking.  Act 3 started with a bang!  I guess I should have seen it coming, but part of me never wanted to go there.  Well Splice did.  Is that a bad thing?  Again, I don’t think so.  But these scenes I am referring to do tend to alienate and segregate the viewing audiences.  That much is evident.  But don’t we want to see movies break the boundaries of norm every once in awhile?  Do we always want the same old thing?  Not me.  I was shocked and a little bit disturbed at the time, but looking back, I’m glad they had the courage to say let’s do that and let’s do this.  As Rocky Balboa would say “That’s how winning is done.”  I’m not going to tell you to drop everything you have planned and see Splice today, but if curiosity has the best of you, and of course you have an open mind for disturbing subject matter, then definitely, by all means, check this one out!  That’s an order!


For a new theatrical release on Blu-ray, Splice may come across a little soft to some viewers.  But don’t worry folks.  The sometimes drab color palette and softer scenes are all of artist intent and I’m happy Warner Bros. did not mess with the director’s vision here like so many studios decide to tinker with on the Blu-ray format.  The 50GB disc features a 1080p VC-1 video codec with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1.  Skin tones all look normal, black levels are consistently deep and film grain is nicely kept to a minimal unobtrusive level throughout.  Now I mentioned soft shots before, but don’t lose track of the big picture here folks.  This is still Blu-ray experience ladies and gentlemen.  There are still some moments of mouth gaping awe and plenty of rich detail to be found here, particularly during close-up scenes.  While I obviously can’t say this video presentation is flawless or reference quality, I can’t say it’s a catastrophe either.  It’s quite the contrary as it stays true to the way it was originally shown on the big screen (I was there).  So what more can you ask for in the video department?


Warner Bros. brings Splice to the Blu-ray format with an atmospheric engulfing 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track.  Also present is a Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish track and available English and Spanish subtitles to boot.  Now like the video, the audio here is not exactly reference quality.  I mean, how could it possibly be?  It’s not your big action blockbuster with things blowing up all around you.  However, that’s not to say it’s not any good either.  I hate to repeat the words I used above, but it’s quite the contrary.  The surround track on Splice, most importantly, puts you in the middle of the action as the rear speakers and subwoofer come to life whenever needed and that results in not only a realistic experience as Dren creeps all around you, but also a spooky experience to be had.  And when Dren and her antics do decide to come to life, so does the LFE.  How can you not like that?  And as far as my biggest pet peeve, I never had any problem with the dialog.  It’s pretty clear and intelligible for the most part.  So all in all, I think if you do decide to give Splice a test drive; you will be very pleased with the acoustics of the soundfield.  I was!

Special Features  

I guess with all the good news is always the inevitable chance that there could be some bad, right?  Here’s where Splice gets its first failing grade of the day.  Luckily for me, it’s in a section I care very little about, but nonetheless it has to be graded equally.  Do you want the good news first or the bad?  I prefer the good so we will roll with that.  If you are lucky enough to pick up the Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack (notice…this is probably the only time you will EVER hear me say anything good about a DVD), then you will get a Digital Copy.  Yea!  And regardless of whether you get the Combo pack or the standalone Blu-ray release, God created all the special features equally here.  I guess I should not make the word “features” plural.  It should really read “feature.”  Yep, that’s right.  There’s only one special feature to be found here and sadly, it’s not even in High Definition.  Boo!  So let’s take a closer look at this sole special FEATURE.

  • A Director’s Playground: Vincenzo Natali on the Set of Splice (SD) – This 35-minute featurette basically follows Natali around the set as scenes are shot.  Natali does speak a little bit about his directing style and what makes him tick.  I don’t know?  I just want more.  And I want my featurettes in High Definition!  I’m picky!

I’m going with a score of 1 here ONLY because mine is the DVD Combo pack and it has the Digital Copy.  I can’t wait to gross out all my friends with this movie when I get an iPhone one day on the Verizon network!

Final Thoughts  

Unfortunately, as we come to the conclusion of the review, the score suffers tremendously here solely because of the Special Features department.  However, as I frequently do, I’m not going to let a less than stellar set of Special Features derail me from recommending this film to all the diehard sci-fi fans out there.  I think that’s the community where this Blu-ray will see a lot of replay value in.  I know I may have been a bit taken back and shocked during my first theatrical viewing, but after I distanced myself from the film I learned to appreciate this as the sci-fit treat/treasure it really is.  And what better way to enjoy the magic of Splice than on the Blu-ray format?  Pick up your Blu-ray copy today and get ready to push the boundaries of modern medicine and um…other things…LOL!


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

3 Responses to “Splice (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    I really enjoyed this film!

  2. Brian White

    It sure is enjoyable! A second viewing was just what the Dr. ordered for me 🙂

  3. Gerard Iribe

    Awesome! Yeah, I’m still waiting for the price to go down a bit before I blind buy it.