FIRST LOOK: SPLICE
I think it’s fair to say that most horror fans are always on the prowl for that perfect, horrific, movie-going experience: bloody, but not dumb; uncompromising, but not “artsy-fartsy”; scary, but not hokey; smart, but not slow. Well, after viewing Vincenzo Natali’s SPLICE I feel that I’ve experienced all of the above, and then some. This is a bold and daring modern-day masterpiece that still has me mulling over the many shocks and surprises it serves up as well as some of the more cerebral and controversial themes it touches upon.
For the uninitiated, the main gist of the plot goes like this: Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) are two young scientists who have been given the job of running a genetic laboratory at a large corporation to develop a protein using animal gene splicing from several different species. To speed up the process, they secretly take a chance and add human DNA to the experiment. What they get is a new organism which Clive wants to destroy, but Elsa convinces him to let it live a little longer.
That “little longer” is what sets in motion an ongoing series of mishaps, cover-ups and moral misgivings that get more severe as both Clive and Elsa become increasingly attached and protective of their creation that they’ve named “Dren.” Both Brody and Polley are convincing as a couple whose relationship becomes strained under all of the weirdness that comes with the territory of keeping their “discovery of the century” under close wraps while trying to meet their initial deadline of delivering a new protein to be mass produced.
In addition, the Dren creature is an odd and mesmerizing creation (mad props to the KNB boys for a job well done) that confounds, challenges and surprises when least expected. I’d say this is another strong attribute of SPLICE – we learn of Dren’s new and sometimes dangerous physical and emotional developments just as Clive and Elsa do. Sure, there’s typical suspense and build up present throughout SPLICE. But it is counterbalanced quite nicely by a handful of “holy s*it” moments where there’s absolutely nothing you can do but pick your jaw up off the floor.
I am thrilled that a shrewd producer like Joel Silver helped get SPLICE the wide release it deserves. But its box office to date, unfortunately, is less than thrilling. I read an article in Variety about a few indie flicks that made close to SPLICE’s opening weekend on a quarter of the movie screens. Sad and puzzling as there was a very positive and rowdy vibe from the packed audience I saw this wicked, little gem with.
If you are able, catch “Splice” in theaters before it leaves. While not straight-up horror, it doesn’t pull any punches and deserves your, ahem, un-spliced attention.