It's Alive! It's a Monster! It's … Not That Exciting.

Starring Adrian Brody, Sarah Polley
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Rated R

In an interview with The Guardian, director Vincenzo Natali calls his sci-fi horror flick “Splice” “an exploration of inner space instead of outer space … it’s emotional horror.”

Unfortunately, that emotion leaves the audience wondering just where this inner-space exploration was supposed to be headed.

The film follows scientist couple Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) as they experiment with creating hybrid animals for medical purposes. The couple creates Dren (Delphine Chanéac), beginning a Frankenstein-esque tale as Dren rapidly grows from a small kangaroo/rat into a sentient almost-human with a stinger tail.

Natali is best known for the 1997 psychological thriller “Cube,” and “Splice” has moments of disturbing insight that would put Freud to shame. But other than those scant instances, the characters are flat, bouncing between dull extremes of tenderness and psychosis. Elsa is the typical smothering mother, while Clive is the responsible scientist who spouts off about how they crossed a line creating Dren in the first place. It’s no better when they switch soapboxes halfway through the film; they’re just flat in different ways.

The script’s tentative explorations of ethical questions­ — like why Elsa would create and raise Dren — show that it’s trying to live up to “Cube”. In addition, when Clive finally understands the disturbed reasoning that’s been going on in Elsa’s head, his reaction is one of the few moments where “Splice” lives up to the emotional-horror label.

Not to say that the film is without its purported tender moments.

“It’s really a mother-daughter story,” Natali said. “The primary relationship in the film is Elsa and Dren.”

That dynamic would have come through a little more if “Splice” took the time to establish such details. Instead, viewers are railroaded through a series of abrupt revelations: Elsa had a bad relationship with her dead mother. Aforementioned dead mother had a farm. Clive and Elsa need to hide Dren from their company.

The movie’s full of faux emotionally charged moments, like Clive trying to drown an already choking Dren and — surprise! — it turns out Dren can breathe underwater. Elsa, thinking he saved their pseudo-daughter from choking to death, asks, “How did you know?” Clive just shrugs, and that’s about all you can do too.

“Splice” does have moments where it goes deeper than the surface. In the end, the characters don’t have any more depth than before, but the effect is so bizarre that it sets “Splice” apart from other creature shockers.