Review of Splice (2009)

5 Nov

Splice (2009) is a horror/sci-fi/thriller film about gene splicing experiment not going as expected.

Directed by Vincenzo Natali (Cube (1997), Cypher (2002)).

Written by Vincenzo Natali (Nothing (2003), Elevated (1997 Short)), Doug Taylor (The Carpenter (1988), They Wait (2007)) and Antoinette Terry Bryant.

Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac, Brandon McGibbon, Simona Maicanescu, David Hewlet, Abigail Chu and others.

We see two scientists, who seem to have created these two CG creatures, which are revealed to be the combination of multiple species into one being. So yes, that’s what you get, you mix various species and get this blob of flesh that doesn’t seem to be very useful other than a scientific curiosity.

But of course it is. The scientists want to apply this gene splicing technology to humans, because it would provide incredible medical breakthroughs, but the corporate heads don’t approve this. It is reverse case of what we usually see in movies that try to push the idea of corporate greed, making the businessmen become reckless with the slightest possibility of profit. Here we have the scientists who are obsessed with their project. Similar to the mad scientist movies we don’t get so often anymore, like Frankenstein or The Fly.

The movie has a very slick visual style, some shots done with the use of such a wide-angle lens that it is almost fish-eye.

Our main characters are a scientist couple, played by Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody. From the first few minutes they have a great dynamic, are likable and believable. The chemistry is there, both literally and figuratively.  Nowadays there’s an odd lack of scientists in science fiction, which this movie provides in spades.

The couple decide to fuck their sponsors and go ahead with the creation of a humanoid creature. From it’s „birth”, it becomes clear, that things have gone at least slightly wrong. The creature goes through various stages switching from practical effects to CGI, the practical effects are done great, it’s Greg Nicotero after all. Then we settle on a combination of the two, which looks pretty decent.

What is the most interesting part about it, is that as the experiment progresses and the creature evolves and grows, it starts getting kind of disturbing and you can’t help, but question the ethics of things like this. Maybe this message is a bit on the nose, but it doesn’t hammer it all that much, except you start feeling uneasy watching the relationships that are forming between the characters.

And it does get really creepy, the horror element works so well, because by the time a real threat starts forming, you care a lot about the characters and it terrifies you psychologically. It’s not a slasher flick so there’s not a body count running through the movie, it’s more about the build-up, because you just know that something horrible is going to happen eventually. The suspense keeps you interested, while all the exposition and character development is happening.

Both Polley and Brody do really great jobs, but special nod should go to Delphine Chaneac, who portrays the creature in its full-grown form, it’s a very physically demanding role and she delivers. Selling the horrors of parenting, growing up and changing and science gone wrong.

It has been somewhat poorly received by general audience, some people complaining that it was disturbing and offensive. For me it’s one of the better horror films of the recent years, mostly due to it being delightfully disturbing without trying to shock people. Those were shocked? Well, in my opinion they’re pansies, who should do some research on what they’re watching.

Overall, I enjoyed it a lot, I thought it was gripping, thrilling and twisted. Vincenzo Natali is a sci-fi filmmaker worth looking out for. Recommended.

Starring: Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody as young Professor Snape.

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