One would think that with a ghoulish approach to monster movie making, that Splice would either be a mindless gore fest or an over-predictable snore fest, but that's not the case with Vincenzo Natali's latest.
When two brilliant geneticists, Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), accomplish the arduous task of "splicing" human DNA with the DNA from other species, the result is Dren (Delphine Chaneac), a revolutionary animal-human hybrid anomaly. What they aren't able to grasp is how to deal with her development, and are caught in a gray area between parenting a child and controlling an experiment that has run amok. But the real question is just who is really the one out of control? You find your self sympathizing with both the monster and the geneticists. Then you want to scream as you see how the characters evolve into monsters themselves and become less human -- It gives parenting a whole new meaning.
Brody is superb in the movie, having not seen him in a lot of thrillers or horror movies (though he'll star in another in July's
Predators), it shows his depth beyond the normal dramas he used to gravitate towards. Polley was the gorgeous blonde from Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake so she has been immersed in the horror genre already. She can act terrified and heroic at the same time.
Natali manages to elegantly weave nearly every aspect of sci-fi, horror, and psychological drama into his latest masterpiece. It's not just a monster movie, but also one of the best-acted films of this genre I have seen in years and with no cheeky one-liners or grand-standing. Splice boldly explores the God-complex, psychosexual taboos, cruelty, and tenderness in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. It goes from monster movie to family film when they begin to raise Dren to a horror movie with a twist you never see coming. I didn't expect it, but there was some very adult material in the film too. Splice cuts into you, leaving a mark- not just because it's a great flick, but because of its eerie plausibility.
Having a chance to see the movie ahead of time, the press got to sit in on a live Q&A session with Natali. Not surprisingly, he cites Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as a big influence on his work. His other films such as Cube all have to deal with a crazy scientist mucking up nature. Also, he consulted with a geneticist during the film's development in order to understand what was plausible and what what possibly too fantastical, and came up plausible in more than enough areas to really give us the creeps. Of course, it wouldn't have the "horror" element without a splash of gore, and a bit of cheese. However, the gore is expertly timed and completely appropriate for the "eww" effect, and the cheese is served in small doses -- just enough to help us deal with the realistic possibilities this film proposes.
Human Cloning has been banned in the USA by Former President George W. Bush, but countries in Europe are already "splicing" human and animal DNA, which makes Splice all the more a must-see. Although the incentive to go is for a monster movie complete with a chase through the woods, we might just be preparing ourselves for the future in a creepy but altogether definitely possible way.
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Written by Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, Doug Taylor
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Dinah Thought: "Don’t believe the hype; Splice is nothing avant garde. Although it might have captured the interest in some cinematic circles for graphic sexual content, this story of human experimentation gone wrong is slowly paced and neither scary nor as thrilling as the genre requires. Following a growing trend in American film, Splice contains a violent sex scene which (for some) gives it a free pass despite lacking quality in any other area. Taboo is no mask for a lack of substance, poor effects, and annoying protagonists. It’s a horrid little horror film unworthy of an illegal download." Rating: 2/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.5/10