‘That Was A Deal Breaker For A Lot Of People’: Splice Director Recalls The Wild Scene Execs Wanted Removed From The Horror Flick

When was the last time you revisited 2009’s Splice? In case it’s been a minute, or you’ve never seen it, let me remind you that it is one of the most underrated and best horror movies of the 2000s. Some think it's a bad movie with a great plot, but frankly, I think it’s one of the best retellings of the Frankenstein story and, for my money, it should rank among the very best sci-fi flicks. But it is not for the faint of heart. Now, the film’s director opened up about a certain wild scene execs wanted removed from the flick because they said it was a “deal breaker.” 

Directed by Vincenzo Natali, Splice delves deep into the ethical and moral boundaries of genetic engineering, blending horror with science fiction in a way that few films have dared to do. As the film approaches its 15th anniversary, the Cube filmmaker reflected on the provocative scene that nearly derailed the entire project. In a recent retrospective interview with IndieWire, the filmmaker discussed the intense pushback he faced over the infamous scene where Adrien Brody’s character engages in a sexual encounter with the human-animal hybrid creature he and his partner created. He explained: 

Primarily, it was the fact Adrien Brody’s character has sex with the creature. That was a deal breaker for a lot of people.

The filmmaker clarified that the long delay was primarily because of budget constraints and this one super controversial but essential scene. Instead of just axing the moment, Natali dug his heels in. He elaborated:

It was in the contract that the scene could not be cut because I was so fearful that it would be, even after it was finished. It was the raison d’etre of the movie to me; not just because it’s sensational but because I felt like if we’re going to tell a 21st-century retelling of Frankenstein, we need to push it into the 21st century. This was a story about life and birth — and sex was always going to be part of that equation. To dance around it would’ve been cowardly. That’s what excited me.

The tension surrounding this scene wasn’t just about its shocking nature, it's also about the thematic importance. Natali emphasized that the controversial interaction between Clive and Dren was crucial to the narrative’s exploration of the boundaries of humanity and the ethical dilemmas inherent in playing god with genetics.

Splice tells the story of two scientists who defy legal and ethical boundaries by splicing human and animal DNA to create a new organism they name Dren. As Dren grows and evolves, the creator faces unforeseen scientific and personal consequences. The film’s climax hinges on the sexual encounter, raising questions about the nature of creation and the responsibilities of creators towards their creations.

While American studios were hesitant, French film company Gaumont (The Fifth Element, Only God Forgives) didn’t share the same reservations. With the backing of one of the most prolific studios in the sci-fi-fantasy genre, the Adrien Brody-led movie suddenly gained momentum. Vincenzo continued: 

The French were like, why not?

As Orson Wells might say, “Ahhhhhhh the French…”

Natali's determination to keep the controversial scene wasn’t just a bold move but a testament to his commitment to authentic storytelling. This choice underlined his resolve to make creative decisions that mattered, and in the end, he was right. 

The flick has since developed a cult following, celebrated for its daring narrative and thought-provoking themes. If Splice is your jam, you’ve got to dive into Natali’s other works. His episode in Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities is a must-watch if you have a Netflix subscription. Plus, don’t miss his other films like Cube, Cypher, Nothing, and Haunted. Personally, I'm a massive fan of his Stephen King adaptation, the well-reviewed In the Tall Grass—perfect for all enthusiasts of the best horror movies.

Splice's release was met with polarized reactions. Even though it didn’t make a killing at the box office, barely hitting its $30 million budget, it found its audience among genre fans, leaving a lasting mark in the world of body-horror sci-fi. The director recounted:

The baby went out into the world, found its way, and established relationships. People saw the movie, and it shook or scared them just like films like ‘Dawn of the Dead’ or ‘Alien’ did for me. It’s incredibly gratifying to know that Dren has left an impression on so many minds.

You can dive back into Splice or experience it for the first time with a Max subscription. But fair warning, it’s not for the faint of heart. And don’t forget to check out our 2024 movie schedule to see what spine-chilling upcoming horror movies will soon haunt your local theaters.

Ryan LaBee

Ryan graduated from Missouri State University with a BA in English/Creative Writing. An expert in all things horror, Ryan enjoys covering a wide variety of topics. He's also a lifelong comic book fan and an avid watcher of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon.