It's been interesting to listen to the conversations about "Splice" in the few days since I saw it. Reactions have been fairly evenly divided, and the people who don't like it aren't really running down the filmmaking or the performances or the effects work used to bring Dren, the strange new life form at the center of the film, to such vivid and bizarre life. They just plain don't like the experience. I can see that. "Splice" is jet-black, especially with its sense of humor, and any time you mix sexuality into a horror film, people get weird about it. It plays on a level that some people's lizard brain just plain rejects. Too much chocolate in the peanut butter, so to speak.
I really liked "Splice,' and in the days since I saw it, I've been thinking about some of the images and ideas over and over, which is a good sign. There's a lot going on in the film, and it's the sort of thing that will play well a second or third time, as you're able to go back and really break down what it is Natali's doing in each movement of the film. I will admit that the first time I read the names of the characters played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley in the film -- Clive and Elsa -- I rolled my eyes and thought, "Oh, no, that's so obvious and on-the-nose cute, I hope the whole film is like that."
The thing is, Natali defuses it in the first scene, when we meet the first generation born-in-a-lab life forms that were created by the hotshot geneticists played by Brody and Polley. The monsters are called Fred and Ginger, and it's thrown away in a manner that lets you know that Natali thinks the naming is less important than what they do, that "cute" is a tendency most people can't resist when naming couples. Clive and Elsa are, of course, a reference to Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester, who played Dr. Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein in the 1935 masterpiece "The Bride Of Frankenstein," and that obvious joke is also a statement of mission: Natali knows exactly what story he's teling, and he wants to bring Mary Shelly's original concepts into the age where genetic miracles have become almost commonplace.