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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
- A Director’s Playground: Vincenzo Natali on the Set of Splice
- BD Live
Two nerds make a freaky spliced DNA butt monster.
Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley and Delphine Chaneac
Clive and Elsa are superstar geneticists. That alone should tip you off to the fact that this is a work of science fiction. A bigshot company is paying our heroes to come up with creatures from which they can extract a special protein. Splicing dog, eagle and human DNA together…the duo produces a new kind of being. Taking the creature as their own, they hide it away at a country farm. The newly dubbed Dren ages rapidly and begins to develop sexual/homicidal tendencies.
Director Vincenzo Natali entertained the hell out me with Cube. Splice and Cube share a lot of similarities. Both films blend horror and sci-fi elements to create visions that most audiences don’t get to see in traditional American cinema. It’s just that both films share a point where Natali seems to get distracted and lets the third act wander away from him. I guess I’m getting ahead of myself, so I’ll turn inward.
Splice is a strong film that takes a look at scientific ethics and how they apply to the ever-changing world of genetics. Sure, we don’t have teams of people building freak monster babies that morph into horny teenagers. You have to step away from a creature like Dren and notice the smaller issues that produced her. Polley and Brody’s characters are constant studies of gender roles, as Polley gets to play the far more nurturing parent. She wants to learn from Dren and teach her how to blend into humanity. Brody fears that they shouldn’t even consider the subject to be human or childlike. It’s something that should’ve been aborted and is probably moments away from killing the science lovin’ couple.
When Brody finds the chance to kill the creature, he suddenly learns that the little bitch can grow gills and flourish. Sarah Polley is amazed and asks Mr. Wizard if he knew what he was doing. The level of child abuse in this moment is enough to make Bing Crosby rise from the grave and beat the shit out of Tasha Yar with a sock full of Valencia oranges. Eventually, Polley and Brody try to make two more creatures but that goes to shit. They jump genders ala Jurassic Park and kill each other during a board meeting. Everyone freaks out, causing our dynamic duo to retreat back to the country farm. That’s when they discover that Dren’s got a giant freak boner for Brody.
What follows is a long journey into a night filled with many unethical sexual encouners. The freakish Dren has the potential to eventually jump genders, yet it still bares the same chemical attraction that Brody has for Polley. Everyone becomes more and more confused, as temptation leads to freaky couplings. You also get a rape scene better than any piece of Cronenberg body horror in the last fifteen years. What’s so amazing about all of this is that the entire film is carried on the backs of the three leads.
What other horror film in recent memory has been so dependent on its leads? Sci-Fi/Horror usually sports strong acting, but the work that Polley and Brody are doing is nothing short of incredible. There’s also a lot of dialogue for this being a Dark Castle imprint flick, but I feel that has more to do with WB buying it rather quickly at Sundance. The indie background is there, as Polley’s character opens up and shares a painful origin story that could be enough material for another film. Naturally, a film about bioethics and interpersonal relationships ate it hard at the American box office.
In the end, Splice works as a skewed take on the Sci-Fi mythic creator role. Whether it be Scientist or flawed parent, you never can quite tell what you’re going to produce. Through the round off-center almond eyes of Dren, you see a world that shouldn’t be. Having the tools to create fantastic worlds and creatures to populate reality doesn’t mean that you’ve worked miracles. It just means you had the money, time and delusion to think that you might be something greater than you are today.
As Polley’s character grows to realize with Dren, there’s much trouble in putting too much of yourself into your work. Whether it’s the tinier Fred and Ginger or Dren slaughtering a pet kitty with her barbed tail, you will always live to see your mistakes. There are no fresh starts in life. Hard Science Fiction goes out of its way to make that point clear. Some viewers have found fault with the sense of dread that permeates the flick from the first frame, while I say that you should embrace it. All good Sci-Fi tales are meant to be cautionary. It’s what Mary Shelley would’ve wanted.
Blu-Ray comes with BD-Live functionality and a lone featurette about the production. The featurette is a short thirty-five minute romp where director Natali walks us through the film and his intentions. The A/V Quality is rather strong for the feature, as it sports an AVC encode on a BD-25 disc. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the standard definition featurette. The DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track comes to life towards the end of the film, as Dren moves from purring to far more evil sounds. The second disc in the set is the DVD/digital copy.