We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage.
Synopsis: Hipster scientists Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) have humanity’s best interest in mind as they try to genetically engineer animals that can revolutionize medicine. After their would-be humanity-saving experiments tear each other apart, Clive and Elsa create a new creature with human DNA. Thus the couple begins a downward spiral of bad decisions with the best of intentions.
Miraculously, this new creature doesn’t die, so they secretly keep it alive in the lab, hoping it can lead to medical advancements. Silly hipster scientists. As the experiment (which they’ve affectionately named Dren, which is “nerd” spelled backwards) matures, Clive and Elsa soon realize they are in way over their heads… and maybe a little turned on.
Splice has more than its fair share of “Holy shit!” moments, and they run the gamut from jump scares to things you never thought you’d see on screen. However, the scene that sticks out as being deliciously fun and over-the-top is when Clive and Elsa are so proud to introduce their DNA hybrid meatloaf creatures to the scientific community. But unbeknownst to Clive and Elsa, the female of the male/female pair changed her sex behind their backs. The meeting of two sexually aggressive males results in a bloody, goo-filled hybrid meatloaf battle royale. It’s shocking and gory and absolutely hilarious.
Splice is not your standard horror movie, and it’s not overtly violent. Its strength lies in the presentation of the story and how screwed up things get. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing for the gorehound in all of us. Aside from the Killer Scene above, things get really twisted and violent in the last half of the film. Plus, the beginning of the film offers a couple strong Cronenberg-esque mucous moments.
Oh, there’s sex. Though only a freaky pervert like myself would find it all that enticing. You have to admit that Delphine Chanéac as Dren is strangely attractive, even with a giant poison-filled tail that might stab a lover to death during coitus. She’s topless during several scenes, so that counts for something, right? And I suppose I can give a nod to Clive and Elsa getting it on in the beginning, but that’s just so vanilla in the context of this film. But for those aforementioned freaky perverts, there are not one, but two, WTF sex moments in Splice, for better or for worse.
Splice balances its scares between shock moments and warped psychological speculation. The jump scares are easy, only requiring a dark room and something to leap into frame with the appropriate music cue. Director Vincenzo Natali orchestrates these well, but like a good Christmas present, when it comes to Splice, it’s the thought that counts. This film conjures realistic and unrealistic concerns about our tinkering with the human genome. I’m not saying that there are hipster scientists creating little Drens out there to take over the world, but the “what if” potential of the film, mixed with the ever-present misguided good intentions of the characters, makes me wonder what crazy things could actually be happening in questionable labs.
Splice was a bomb at the box office, foolishly released into theaters on June 4 against movies like Marmaduke, Killers and Get Him to the Greek. However, I considered it one of the best films of 2010. (To be honest, I had MacGruber on that list as well, so take that recommendation with a grain of salt.) Still, anyone who likes movies about scientists who hope to help humanity only to create a monster should enjoy this flick. Funny story, though… at the advance screening I attended last year, the power went out in the theater just after the first WTF sex moment. A couple days later, I snuck into the movie to check out the final few minutes and had a good laugh. All the people in that early screening who were horrified at that first WTF moment should count themselves lucky they didn’t have to see the second WTF moment. It would have melted their brains.