Sunday, July 17, 2011

Splice (2009)

Image from Imp Awards

Splice (2009)

Looks like the IMDB collective isn't overly fond of this one!

Splice is a sci-fi horror film about a couple of genetic engineers (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polly) who, as they tend to do in movies, take things a bit too far and secretly create a creature (played by Delphine Chanéac) that's part human and part... other things. It starts growing up rapidly and the two are forced to take care of it, adopting the role of surrogate parents. As with most infants, the creature - named Dren (nerd backwards) - yearns to escape its confinement and experience the world, which leads to some undesirable consequences.

It's a far more cerebral film than it initially appears to be, and despite the cliched 'scientists making creature in lab' premise writer/director Vincenzo Natali seems to have something more to say. Although the ubiquitous meddling with nature theme is initially front and centre the parenting, childhood, and sexuality metaphors become more dominant as the film goes on, making it more than just a creature feature. Having said that it is still a dark and moody film with very well done designs and effects that help create some icky/freaky/gory scenes. Brody and Polly are decent in this but the standout by far is Delphine Chanéac as Dren who with the aid of great makeup and CGI really does come across as an advanced but mentally immature life form.

The film is not without flaws. Many of the 'twists' in the story are telegraphed in advance and don't have nearly as much shock value as they could. Genre cliches are embraced and well executed but some of the more shocking scenes seem arbitrary. It's not overly long at 100 or so minutes but drags a bit and felt longer. Also - and I may just be really jaded - none of the scare scenes come close to being scary.

Flaws notwithstanding, it's a pretty good film that should appeal to genre fans, but not so much to the casual viewer expecting a typical horror film. It's more ambitious than that but doesn't do quite enough for me to call it a great film, just a very good one.

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