Splice is an uncomfortable little film about the madness of so-called scientists and the games they play with nature. Here it’s the committed Sarah Polley and her emo-pal Adrien Brody; together they create a viable human-animal hybrid in their lab, a mutant, sickly, repellent-looking creature, a female they call Dren (that’s “nerd” backwards). To their surprise and smug satisfaction, she grows and learns and adapts and thrives. It’s the adapts bit you should watch out for, because it ain’t pretty.

Splice is a Canadian-French (as opposed to French-Canadian, I guess) co-production that filmed in Toronto, so it’s got none of the frills and spills and overblown claptrap of a typical Hollywood movie of its ilk. It’s leaner somehow, and thus meaner and, without giving away anything of the plot, it’s not so much the ick factor of the repulsive creature that makes for a tense, unpleasant bit of viewing but the moral emptiness of the characters. Creepy.

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