A twisted science-run-amok horror film that doubles as a cautionary tale about parental devotion (and, perhaps also, a role-reversal take on the abortion debate), Splice follows superstar geneticist couple Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) as they disobey their employers’ orders and create an animal-human hybrid. The result is a being Elsa dubs Dren (Delphine Chanéac), which begins life as a two-legged tadpole-like thingee and slowly develops into a four-limbed feminine combination of person, fish, reptile and fowl. More than faint traces of David Cronenberg’s DNA can be found throughout director Vincenzo Natali’s (Cube) latest, given its fascination with mutated flesh and suppressed desires, the latter coming in the form of Elsa’s underlying motherly reasons for wanting to create Dren in the first place. In keeping with his central gender-bending creation, Natali smartly exploits traditional male-female relationship dynamics for modestly pitched tension. Though he’s not immune to indulging in juvenile gross-out goriness, said moments generally get the job done, as do the performances by Brody (morally conflicted yet spineless) and Polley (hard-assed but pitiful). Splice’s action eventually devolves into stock suspense scenarios involving nighttime chases and nasty killshots, but such a turn for the mundane doesn’t negate the preceding, metaphorically sturdy B-movie thrills, nor the awesome hilarity of witnessing a former Best Actor Oscar-winner literally get into his monstrous work.