Though Sundance-screened and sporting an upscale cast, Vincenzo Natali's Splice has a mad-science quality. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are Clive and Elsa, a married couple of "rock star" genetic engineers who are introduced midwifing the birth of a lab-grown, maggoty sack of tissue, which we'll soon observe in a mating tango that'll put you off your popcorn. Clive and Elsa then decide to tamper in God's domain and toss a soupçon of human DNA into their recipe. What winds up in the incubator is a massive spermatozoon ending in an obscene glans, which hatches a walking skinned rabbit, which develops into an increasingly humanoid girl with a wicked harelip. Though he'll more than accept their adoptee in time, Clive is understandably creeped out at first by his wife's coddling treatment of the thing, now christened "Dren." (Polley's glowing reaction shots while nestling her mutant toddler make a deadpan joke of parents' indifferent pride in whatever they've hatched.) In spite of, or because of, the portentous, gathering-clouds score and accumulated Freudian gibble-gabble, Splice is a queerly funny movie. Natali never drops his poker face, but you can't tell me a moment like the Big Presentation, where the front row of suits get splattered, isn't supposed to be a knee-slapper. Of Splice's various primal scenes, that's-just-wrong coitus interruptuses, and ridiculous dialogues delivered with unfailing conviction ("Was it ever about science?"), I am less certain of the intention.
Weird science: Polley in the lab.
Opens at area theaters, Fri., June 4. Rated R. 104 minutes.