3.5 stars. Could have been silly but it's actually pretty darn creepy.
Jun 10, 2010
I liked the movie SPLICE, but I'm not sure I would ever recommend it to anyone. It's a horror movie that walks very tightly on the line between irredeemably silly and truly creepy. For me, it fell on the creepy side just enough to make it a fun experience. But based on some of the very low audience scores I've seen, it easily falls on the laughable side for many.
It tells the story of two scientists who are a couple (Adrien Brody & Sarah Polley) who work for a big conglomerate that seeks to develop a new source of animal protein, or something like that. They are literally developing new life forms that look like giant slugs and apparently will make for truly outstanding sources of protein. For reasons not entirely clear and/or credible...they add just a smidge of human DNA to the recipe (without permission from anyone , of course) and end up with a hybrid that starts out as a painfully ugly creature that looks like a lumpy slug with stump legs, but eventually grows into a slender, mostly human looking female (except for the wide side eyes) that has some characteristics that aren't entirely human, nor are they entirely safe.
Modest mayhem ensues in this film that is really yet another modern update of the Frankenstein story. In fact, the two main characters are named Clive and Elsa...could that be Colin Clive, who played the original Dr. Frankenstein and Elsa Lancaster, who played the original Bride of Frankenstein? Regardless, Clive and Elsa are two of the most irresponsible scientists to grace a movie. Their experimentation is reckless in the extreme (and probably pointless too). At first, Brody is horrified by the creature his partner as spawned, and wants to destroy it and pretend none of it happened...but love and fear of his partner stop him. Gradually, roles reverse as the creature (named "Dren"...which is "nerd" backwards) develops a personality along with a strong, dangerous will of its own.
If it all sounds silly...that's because it IS very silly on paper. But for me, the film worked to an extent by embracing the "wrongness" of what these two scientists were doing. I was filled with dread at nearly every turn by the casual disregard for scientific principles and the truly yucky looking creature. The beast was "wrong,"...just looking at it, you knew that a thing like this was never meant to exist.
As Dren grows up and learns to express itself in more recognizable ways...we do grow to take an interest in her well-being...but only up to a point, because she has a mean streak that's rather alarming too. And she keeps changing throughout the movie, so you really have no idea what to expect next. Dren is a pretty cool Frankenstein monster, as it turns out.
The film also works because of Sarah Polley. As she did for the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, Polley brings a serious, grounded approach to her acting. She never once appears to acknowledge the far-fetched nature of that she's doing...but she tries to act her character as though she was a super-smart, egotistical but still flesh-and-blood person, not just some screenwriter's concoction. Her character is given some silly things to do and say, but what Polley does is emphasize the believable parts of the script, embrace the character arc she is given, and she plows through the silly stuff, making it matter far less. Brody is fine as well...although I wouldn't say he quite brings the same gravity to his portrayal. Sarah Polley is used far too little in films...probably because she isn't a conventional "Hollywood beauty." Instead, she comes across as a real person you might actually meet. I find that refreshing. The movie itself is shot in a color palette that is all winter colors, adding to the grimy nature of the proceedings.
The special effects are passable but not great. The story has a conventional, even predictable ending scene that steals a lot of its impact. But faults aside, I also found I could not look away from the compellingly icky SPLICE.
I hope there is a director's cut of Splice. I really, really, REALLY hope with the DVD it will be like 2007's I Am Legend and have on a bonus disc the film's original ending. Why do I say this? Well, I haven't researched much, but Warner Brothers once again - just as in I Am Legend - has a decent sci-fi movie that ends on a low-note. I'll put it this way: up until the final 15 minutes I thought Splice was one of the best science-fiction films I'd ever seen. Just about everything … more
Opens Friday, June 4, 2010 | Runtime:1 hr. 44 min.
disturbing elements including strong sexuality, nudity, sci-fi violence and language.
Superstar genetic engineers Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) specialize in splicing together DNA from different animals to create incredible new hybrids. Now they want to use human DNA in a hybrid that could revolutionize science and medicine. But when the pharmaceutical company that funds their research forbids it, Clive and Elsa secretly conduct their own experiments. The result is Dren, an amazing, strangely beautiful creature that exhibits uncommon intelligence and an array of unexpected physical developments. And though, at first, Dren exceeds their wildest dreams, she begins to grow and learn at an accelerated rate--and threatens to become their worst nightmare.
In the grand movie tradition of doomed scientists, Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) won't let the official quashing of their Frankensteinian experiment stand in the way of working on the scheme anyway. Sure, the ethics of swizzling together human genes with various lab potions is queasy, and the initial result of their rogue project is disconcertingly pitched somewhere between a human baby and a monster thing with a stinger in its tail. And yes, the beastie is growing fast. Like, really, really fast. ...