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Monday, October 4, 2010

Splice Together Some Gross Genre Fun

Splice = 4 out of 5
Elsa: What's the worst that could happen?
A very solid sci-fi flick with horror elements, that does a great job at echoing the creepier works of a Cronenberg film, while mostly maintaining a fresh sense of direction in the realm of scientists going to far in films.

Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley star as a couple and a couple of fantastic genetic engineers. For years they have been working on splicing together DNA from different animals to create new hybrids that could possibly help revolutionize medicine. Of course, the funds are about to be cut, so the only solution is for this couple, Clive and Elsa, to secretly pull out the stops and do something drastic; like splice in human DNA within their experiment.

The result is a creature they name Dren, who rapidly grows, develops intelligence, some strange physical features, but still represents the strange line that Clive and Elsa are not sure they should have crossed. Despite developing a love for what they've created, it will soon become a major decision as for how to proceed.

Clive: We've changed the rules...crossed the line.
This is a film that is designed to both be intriguing and throw your senses into a dirty place by the time it has ended. I mentioned Cronenberg earlier, and that is because anyone who has seen The Fly or The Brood should know what they are getting into here. Along with a touch of Frankenstein, Rosemary's Baby, and even The Thing, this is a film that manages to bring out the kind of creature effects to make you curiously disgusted. Nothing ever feels gratuitous, just very explicit when it needs to be, and trust me, the film certainly tries to earn the moments I am only hinting at here. (This is certainly gonna be the less you know the better type review)

The film was written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, who previously directed Cube, a film I appreciated for its ideas, but ultimately didn't really like. Now, armed with more experience, a larger budget, and producers Guillermo Del Toro and Joel Silver in his back corner, Natali certainly has a much steadier hand to help him create a strong creature feature that seems almost fully realized.

I very much appreciated the filmmaking at play here. A lot of noticeably slick camera shots, solid build up of tension, strong score that plays well to the tone of the film, and a good amount of humor. It takes a trusting filmmaker to make sure his actors are aware that its OK to have fun with the material at play here. Much of the drama is certainly punctuated with some dark or self aware humor, because you simply can't take all of this film too seriously.

Given a fairly low budget, the effects on display here are also quite good. While Dren is completely and noticeably CG when it is first born and running around, its the way that it is portrayed that makes it effective and keeps you on board. Once Dren is full sized, the way the makeup is handled on the actress portraying Dren (Delphine Chaneac) is also quite intriguing.

Along with the creature effects, I was also appreciative of a lot of the details on the normal human characters as well. I quite enjoyed both Brody and Polley dressing like actual people, as opposed to stereotypical scientists, along with other people around the lab. Credit here also goes to there performances, as they are both very good in this film.

If there is anywhere the film stumbles, it's in its final act. The film unfortunately does becomes just another "run from the monster" flick, but that doesn't stop it too much from being entertaining; and it certainly doesn't take away from the amount of disgustingly intriguing events that came before it.

Quality film, fresh, intriguing, grossish, and well made.
Elsa: Your a part of me. And I'm a part of you.

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