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Warning: spoilers for Splice are in play. If you haven’t seen Vincenzo Natali’s twisted sci-fi thriller, head back out of this story if you don’t want the surprises to be ruined for you.
While it’s an 11-year-old movie at this point, director Vincenzo Natali’s Splice is a film that’s known for its rather twisted ending. People have loved to talk about the conclusion of this 2009 sci-fi thriller for some time, and the film’s recent inclusion on the Netflix streaming library has sparked those talks yet again. But believe it or not, this modern reinterpretation of Frankenstein has an ending that’s anchored in some deeper thought.
Rather than just deploying its twisted ending for funsies, Vincenzo Natali’s creation parable gives us all we need to know in a very sneaky manner, throughout the entire movie. Looking back at the clues provided throughout Splice, we’re going to take apart the shocking conclusion of the film, and put it all together to show the chilling picture it was setting the audience up for the whole time. Last chance to back out before spoilers, as we’re going to start with a recap to the ending of Splice.
What Happens At The End Of Splice
Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) are confronted by Clive’s brother, Gavin (Brandon McGibbon,) as well as their boss, William Barlow (David Hewett.) The reason for this confrontation is the fact that they’ve been running an illegal experiment to synthesize a miracle protein that’d be the building block to untold genetic miracles. Unfortunately, that experiment has a name, and an attitude, and it’s presumed to have just died. The creature, aptly named Dren (Delphine Chanéac,) turns out to be very much alive, and starts to pick off each of these participants in a brand new form.
Previously known to be a female, Dren has now changed sex, and is a male with a newfound purpose: it wants to breed with Elsa. Killing Gavin and William, Dren pins Elsa to the ground and proceeds to rape her. After Clive dies trying to save his partner, Elsa kills Dren once and for all, and is eventually shown to be carrying its child in Splice’s epilogue. Rather than terminate the pregnancy, Elsa takes a healthy sum from her employer, Newstead Pharmaceuticals, to keep the child; as Dren’s DNA is rich in scientific wonders.
Why Is Splice’s Ending So Twisted
The ending to Splice is something that’s absolutely chilling to behold, as the sexual development of Dren goes from a consensual flirtation and consummation with Clive to the violation of Elsa, in a very short span of time. A sheltered being that’s partially human, Dren has a very limited viewpoint to the world; which is skewed by the fact that Elsa starts to maim, torture, and scold the child she fought so hard to keep alive. Things start to get uncomfortable when Dren and Clive have their tryst, but there’s a component that makes Dren and Elsa’s eventual fate all the more twisted.
Early on in Splice, we’re told that the human genetic profile used to make Dren’s hybrid species is from a “Jane Doe” with a clean medical history. It’s later revealed that it’s not just a random person’s DNA inside the resulting creature, it’s Elsa’s. She uses this fact to try and bond with her then daughter, as she tells Dren that part of her is inside Dren, and conversely part of her child is within her. Something that’s thrown back in her face when the male Dren tells Elsa that the one thing he wants is “inside…you.”
The Clues Splice Provides That Anchor That Twist
Throughout the entirety of Splice, the experiment that’s supposed to put Clive and Elsa on the map is through a pair of vermiform creatures named Fred and Ginger. Through the creation of these two initially lovely creatures, the protein known as CD356 is generated for pharmaceutical usage and research. These creatures are also the other half of the hybrid structure for Dren’s DNA, which is combined with Elsa’s DNA to create the total package we see in the film.
However, as we learn through Fred and Ginger’s story progression, their pairing ends rather violently at a Newstead Pharmaceutical shareholder’s presentation. Surprise, life found a way to turn Ginger into a male, and our intrepid scientists didn’t see this. Meanwhile, Dren is described as having everything Fred and Ginger had, and more, reinforcing that she’s partially made from their DNA as well. So all the mistakes that Clive and Elsa made previously were only amplified by adding an unpredictable human element into the mix.
How Vincenzo Natali Prepared The World For Splice’s Ending Without Even Spoiling The Film
As if those clues weren’t enough to prepare the audience, Vincenzo Natali himself pretty much set the table way back in 2007, shortly before his long term passion project went into production. Describing Splice to the now defunct horror news site Shock Till You Drop, Natali gave the world all of the warning it needed when heading into this particular film:
Splice is very much about our genetic future and the way science is catching up with much of the fiction out there. [This] is a serious film and an emotional one. And there's sex... Very, very unconventional sex. The centerpiece of the movie is a creature which goes through a dramatic evolutionary process. The goal is to create something shocking but also very subtle and completely believable.
Without even dropping the meaty details of Dren’s evolution, and just hinting at the “unconventional sex” that Splice would hold in its core, Natali was able to provide everyone with enough preparation to decide if this film was or was not for them. Though even with fair warning, the conclusion is still a chilling thing to behold, especially when piecing together all the clues previously given.
The Ultimate Meaning Of Splice’s Twisted Conclusion
There’s a lot at work in Splice’s twisted conclusion. Above all else, there’s a Frankenstein-esque message of how just because we can create new and exciting lifeforms doesn’t mean we should. That’s only hammered home by the fact that Clive and Elsa are presumably named after Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester, actors were both a part of Universal’s Frankenstein franchise. But the greater message that pops up in the film is that parenting is as much of an experiment with a hybrid organism child as it is with a regular human kid.
In creating Dren, Elsa felt that she could have a child and be in control of the result, as the unpredictability of parenting is what’s always made her reluctant to have a child. But in trying to avoid the mistakes of her own abusive past, Elsa only ended up making them again. Only this time, the resentful child took its vengeance out in a much more horrifying way. We may never know the consequences of Splice’s foreboding ending, but it’s almost assured that the future is going to lead to even more unpredictable results, as the child of Elsa and Dren seems destined to follow in their bloody footsteps.
The resurgence of Splice is bound to have people talking yet again about just why this infamous ending is a disturbing masterpiece of shock; and maybe even lead to a conversation about how the world lost out when Vincenzo Natali didn’t get to make his version of Swamp Thing. Looking at the details layered in the film’s story, Natali didn’t just surprise the audience without any rhyme or reason. This twisted conclusion has a basis in the events that took place prior to the fateful showdown at the family farm, and if Clive and Elsa were paying attention, they might have been able to prevent them from happening. But they didn’t, and the impressionable ending of Splice now sits for all to behold on Netflix’s streaming library.