And every now and then, there comes along a movie that nearly makes me weep for the sake of humanity. Hello, Splice.
Now, I am a pretty big science fiction/thriller fan. Star Wars, Star Trek, the Alien and Predator series, Terminator…these are all staples of my childhood, which could go a long way in explaining why I’m socially awkward and still single. But I wanted to give Splice a chance and hoped that even if the film wasn’t revolutionary, it’d still be entertaining.
The film centers around Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), two married geneticists who manage to successfully combine various animals’ DNA to create something that resembles a whale’s vagina if it were turned inside out. Apparently this thing creates a type of protein that might hold the key to curing and preventing various ailments.
Fueled by their initial success, they want to move to the next step, combining animal and human DNA. Remembering those pesky things called international laws, the company they work for refuses to grant them permission, choosing instead to focus on the production of the protein.
Elsa, for the sake of science and the betterment of humanity, decides to continue with combining the DNA. Clive, for the sake of continuing to get laid by his wife, decides to continue with combining the DNA. After a montage of various failed efforts that seem to span the eternal length of a full day (having shown them eating only twice), they finally succeed, and scientific progress goes BOINK, and Dren (Delphine Chane ac) is created.
Because the film would have had very little plot if the characters took time to consider how rash their actions were, they instead decide to raise Dren to see whether she, too, can provide answers in the future. Actually, Elsa is the driving force behind this idea; Clive is initially skeptical and against the idea, but because his wife has boobs and he will not have access to them if she’s mad at him, he continues with the experiment.
As Dren grows up, the film shows her “parents'” efforts to learn about her and raise her at the same time. She grows at an accelerated rate, quickly becoming rebellious and difficult to control. As she becomes less and less respondent to Clive and Elsa, they begin to realize they’re in over their heads.
First, the upsides to the film.
As you might have picked up, I really didn’t like this movie. Not once during the film did I feel any sense of attachment or emotional connection to any of the characters. Their cavalier attitudes towards the consequences of their action made it very difficult for me to empathize, or even sympathize, with them. The suspenseful parts are few and far between, and about two-thirds of the way through, a sequence of events occurs that made it very difficult for me and my lovely friend Lauren to take the rest of the movie seriously. The special effects were nothing to write home about, either. The climax is foreshadowed in several parts earlier in the movie, and the ending is beyond predictable.
The whole message of the film stems from the potential for unchecked advancement in scientific progress. Without considering the repercussions, many problems could potentially arise. In a lot of ways, this film is like Jurassic Park, except there are no dinosaurs, there are different actors, the plot’s different, and it’s a lot worse.
So, in summary, unless you’re desperate to see some scifi nudity, avoid Splice. The idea of tempering scientific progress has been done before, and done better.
Splice gets * out of *****. May God have mercy on its soul, because I won’t.
Here is another take from Zac:
Vincenzo Natali’s latest is a weird, interesting, and often messed up creature feature that isn’t the horror movie it is being sold as until the third act, in which it pretty much wastes all of its well earned curiosity and enjoyment by going from something almost wholly original to riddled with cliché.
The film follows a couple of married and childless scientists who are the leaders in their field of cloning/creating organisms for industry to create vaccines, proteins, and other helpful substances for animals/livestock health benefits. Right as the two make their biggest breakthrough yet, their research is halted and instead are assigned to making their latest breakthrough profitable as fast as possible. The couple’s next step in their research was to introduce human DNA into their creature and hopefully get results that will allow their research results be applied to the benefit of humans. When faced with the prospect of being delayed from making this breakthrough for possibly a number of years as they slave under the bidding of their sponsors the couple decides to move forward with their research in secret in hopes of making the breakthrough to show that this project should be their focus. The results, after much trial and error, turn out to be more than they could have ever imagined and their relationship with their creation becomes something completely unexpected.
Now, the film is being heavily sold as some creature horror film that promises scares left and right and creeps all around. In actuality it is at first an engaging and affecting sci-fi story about parenthood and right and wrong in the world of science before sadly divulging into bad horror cliché in the end. The film has twists and turns that won’t surprise but will most certainly intrigue you as director Natali does a great job at creating an original and entertaining sci-fi tale that could have been a truly wonderful piece of cinema. The film was delightfully weird, made you go what the fu**, had plenty of laughs, and got a couple of solid turns out of its two leads; Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody. The pacing was great, the creature, Dren, kept getting cooler and more interesting, and I really thought it was heading for a wonderful third act.
Unfortunately things start to come off the tracks right around here. Things get predictable, characters act seemingly out of character for plot’s sake, and the sexual undertones can easily be questioned as to their need or contribution to the story; I can’t really find a good point for it. The film almost stops taking itself seriously as an interesting sci-fi film and instead decides to dive into every horror trope you could imagine. And to top it all off it isn’t the least bit scary and nothing really works in those last few scenes. The film becomes almost a caricature of its first pair of acts and I for one felt cheated of something really cool and great.
With all that said, I really like the first two thirds of this movie. So much so that I easily think positively about this film and the work that was done in it. Natali’s direction is great and he does miracles with the shoe string budget. The effects work is more than efficient and while there a couple rough spots here or there you can’t help but marvel at the work the creature effects and CG guys do.
The actors are also quite good when the writing is as solid and while the turns make things kind of hard to take seriously in the end you can’t take away the work of the cast in the early parts. Polley and Brody work great with one another and perfectly capture the tone of the picture and guide us into what we should be feeling as we watch the first two/thirds of the film. The actress who plays Dren, Delphine Chanéac, deserves special mention as she does a great job at creating this child like creature that has natural instincts well beyond her young living age. She does a great job in the make up and making the effects work look solid and not a mess.
In the end, Splice was a promising endeavor that took a turn in the third act that just didn’t work for me. Regardless, there is a lot to like in the picture and I was borderline loving it for the first two thirds of the picture. Bound to become a cult classic I am interested to see how this utterly bizarre and inventive sci-fi creature feature plays with audiences and how it is regarded in the cult cannon of films. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Splice is a B-