Film Review - Ondine
Film Review - [Rec] 2

Film Review - Splice

SPLICE Sarah Polley

“Splice” takes at look at the world of genetic manipulation, not through the eyes of science, but through the mechanics of a cheesy, easily winded horror film. Walking boldly in the mighty footsteps of David Cronenberg, “Splice” is aching to creep out the room with its symphony of goopy creatures and psychosexual situations, but the film is perhaps too timid and verbose to truly lunge forward and gleefully disturb.

Scientists Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) are marching into the future with their ambitious DNA splicing efforts, looking for glory as they toy with nature to capture big pharmaceutical bucks. While their labor has resulted in baby steps toward major scientific breakthroughs, Elsa demands more, pushing her latest cocktail of genes to term. The result is a creature named Dren (played by both Abigail Chu and Delphine Chaneac), a seemingly innocent monster that Elsa treats as a child, helping it through its accelerated development cycle. At first hopeful for the potential scientific discoveries it holds, Elsa soon grows protective of the curious creature, while Clive remains unsure about what his partner is planning to do with Dren. Speeding toward maturity, the monster develops awareness, leading to unforeseen violent and seductive situations for the brilliant duo.

“Splice” marks somewhat of a return to the spotlight for director Vincenzo Natali, who achieved cult fame with his crafty 1997 thriller “Cube,” only to chase the breakthrough with a series of little seen endeavors that lacked his genre ingenuity. “Splice” places the filmmaker back on firm filmmaking ground, assembling a story of horrific creation brought about by two maniacal scientists -- it’s a faint whiff of “Frankenstein” played out against today’s brazen leaps in medical advancements, as the chosen few drill further into the unknown to better the world and pad their bank accounts; however, “Splice” is not a cautionary tale on the dangers of greedy scientific experimentation: it’s a monster movie, and a faintly derivative one at that.

Dutifully, Natali and his team of screenwriters marinade the script with lab coat jargon, deploying verbal gymnastics implemented here to create a sense of hard science -- a trident of realism plunged into the middle of a ghoulish cartoon. The tongue-twisting dialogue is tricky and rarely believable in the hands of Polley and Brody, who have the unfortunate task of merging the reality of creation with Natali’s woeful melodrama. The script never lets up, producing an anemic line for every twitch of behavior, wasting time underlining the obvious when the lurid visuals often speak louder than words. It creates a shallow pool of tension, deflating the unknown through suffocating amounts of exposition.

SPLICE Adrien Brody

If you make a valiant attempt to push out the constant yammering, you’ll find some merit to “Splice” worth a view. The creature work from gore wizards Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger is top notch, bringing Dren to life with captivating detail (enchanced further through some crafty CGI), securing the revulsion and allure of this misfit of science. Chaneac takes the character further as Dren ages, growing from a fish-eyed, poison-tailed demon to an unaware temptress, prowling around the frame, struggling with her adolescent curiosity. It’s a pronounced performance of tics, yet the actress locates some emotional clarity within Dren, making the creature more conflicted and impassioned. Also to Chaneac’s benefit? She doesn’t speak, making Dren’s scenes of discovery an unexpected godsend.

“Splice” enjoys flinging the goo and blasting the blood, but its actual purpose is purely sexual. In his early work, David Cronenberg explored the lustful nature of mutated flesh, delighting in diverse viewer reaction to an array of slimy vaginal-like openings and pulsating wounds. “Splice” traces along the same lines, using Dren as a carnal fixation that divides Clive and Elsa, leading to more than a few scenes of pure absurdity, possibly even camp. It’s impossible to buy the tight-pants reaction to Dren when the rest of the film is so robotic. The more Natali pushes the sexual nature of the material, the sillier the film becomes.

Not content to leave the film with a light sense of disease, Natali pushes matters into groan-inducing, gender-flipping horror poetry for the finale, grinding the film into the ground with a shameless snap of sexual violence. The intent is to level the audience with a “Twilight Zone” via Zalman King-style twist of irony, but it succeeds more as a lasting repellent, flushing away all the technical achievements and spooky looks to achieve an irksome, asinine moment of diluted shock value.


C-



SPLICE

Comments

Tim Thomas

I disagree with this review. I found the movie to be an intelligent discussion of science and a cracking horror picture.

Anthony

The author needs to read some interviews with Vincenzo Natali. Most of the film is backed up with Hard science, or science that is just around the corner. I have yet to see the film, as I am going to this weekend, but have known about it for a few years and have been following it because of all the study and hard work that has been put into it.

Jacob Brigman

Did not enjoy a single frame of this picture. Lousy acting, laughable plotting (science or not, how about the director serve the genre before the suspect science), and a howler of an ending.

Good god, no wonder Natali couldn't find work for years.

I wish I read this review before I paid my $5 to see this botched abortion of a film.

Brian, you are officially bookmarked.

Richard M

Heard many bad things about the movie but I decided to see for myself. It's terrible. I feel awful that I wasted my afternoon on such moronic trash. Science or not, how about we get a filmmaker who can actually SUMMON SUSPENSE!

I read it took two years for this film to make it to theaters. Ouch.

Sue

If this movie is actually based on hard science (yeah...), then they did a LOUSY job of communicating that. Pretty terrible from start to finish. I just feel embarrassed for all of those people defending the "hard science" featured in this stinker.

Better luck next time Hollywood!

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