MOVIE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Two trendy hipster scientists work for a big pharmaceutical company to splice genes together in order to make a viable source of proteins for human betterment. After several failed attempts to birth a new life form, they have some success, but their corporate bosses won’t let them start splicing human genes into the mix. Going against orders, they combine the most recent formula with an anonymous female donor to create a brand new species. Part human and part monster, their creation shows promise for medical science as well as some alarmingly dangerous tendencies.
WHAT I LIKED
Earlier this summer, I considered “Splice” to be the most underrated and unfortunately seldom seen movie of the year. Having been a fan of director Vincenzo Natali’s work since I saw “Cube” many years ago, I was saddened by the fact that very few people (even those that would love the film) made a point to see this in the theater. As a cross between “Frankenstein” and “Species,” this is one of the best constructed sci-fi horror movies in a long while.
“Splice” is the kind of hidden film that I love seeing, having spent many hours at all-night horror movie marathons. While it appears to be a pretty straightforward story, the actual film gives you more in scares and chills – and more to think about – than you’d expect. And it does all this without providing a bait-and-switch from what’s promised in the marketing to what you see on the screen.
There’s an extraordinary level of pathos with the character of Dren, which necessitates a tip of the hat to Delphine Chaneac, who plays the creature. While the Academy will ignore her, she deserves a best acting nod for how she emotes through make-up, digital effects and an inability to talk as her character.
The sardonic humor that comes from “Splice” results from the movie being a non-stop chain of events that could be stopped at any time but isn’t due to the lack of brainpower, foresight and willpower of the characters. The mantra of the movie is “What’s the worst that can happen,” and we see the worst happen at every turn. It’s not a warm and fuzzy film by any stretch of the imagination, but it is fascinating to watch.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
This is not a complaint about the film itself, as I find very few parts that could be improved (aside from the overdose of coolness that is heaped upon Adrien Brody in his role). Rather, this story goes hand-in-hand with my sadness that audiences never found this film. It is a story indicative of how the deck seemed to be stacked against “Splice” from the start.
When I saw this film in the press screening, there was a massive lightning storm in my city. About 15 minutes before the film ended – in arguably the best part of the movie – the electrical storm knocked out the power in my theater. The manager tried to get things running on emergency power, even if it was just to show the final reel of the movie to the press, but the gods were not smiling upon us. The audience was left with the film ending right after the “apology” scene. (If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about.)
Later that week, after I caught a Thursday night midnight show of “Marmaduke” with my kids, I snuck into the midnight screening of “Splice” to see the last ten minutes or so. For as freaked out as the press screening audience was at the point the power went out, they missed out on the real insanity of what happens next. This is one of the most disturbed endings to a film you’ll see in a long while.
So, it seems that Mother Nature herself was against people seeing “Splice.” And that kinda makes you think, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, the features on the Blu-ray don’t quite live up to the awesomeness of the movie. All you get is a 30 minute behind-the-scene look at the production in the featurette “A Director’s Playground: Vincenzo Natali on the Set of Splice.”
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who likes a chilling, freaky and shocking monster movie.