Terror Trailers: Splice (2009)
Here’s a riddle for you: what film has the “scientists-playing-god-gone-horribly-awry” aspect of Frankenstein and Jurassic Park, a dangerously sexy female monster like Species and the dysfunctional parenting of Eraserhead? That would be Vincenzo Natali’s science fiction horror film, SPLICE.
Natali, who’s credits also include the gory sci-fi thriller Cube, a segment in the romance film Paris, Je’taime, and an episode of an obscure Nickelodeon sci-fi series, Space Cases (think Star Trek for kids) actually teamed up with Guillermo Del Toro for this psychological spinetingler only for it to receive bad to mixed reviews when it initially came out in 2009. Even 3 years later most people seem to have equally mixed feelings about it where no one quite seems to hate it or love it adamantly. Personally, I enjoyed Cube and Space Cases plus I loves me some Del Toro.
The film centers on a geneticist power couple, Elsa and Clive, who work for a large pharmaceutical company attempting to find cures for a slew of diseases. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley play the scientist couple who, when the big wigs up top force the lab to focus on less titillating endeavors, take things to the next level by splicing human DNA into the mix to create an entirely new life form. However, things inevitably unravel like a kitten left in a small room with a ball of yarn.
The creatures are mainly humans and puppets with some CGI elements and several of the designs have serious phallic overtones, definitely taking a page or two from Giger’s book. The weird bandy bird/Pan legs and occasional wings on the creature are somewhat reminiscent of the characters from Gargoyles, while the prehensile tail with the stinger is not unlike the Andalite aliens from the Animorphs book series. Anyways, enough of my dissection of creature design, I, like The Rube, love a monster movie.
The trailer above would lead you to believe Splice is consistently action-packed, but it is not(I hate it when they do that). Splice is constantly changing, which seems apropos, its a hybrid or a chimera; it’s sexy sci-fi, gory horror, a creature feature, and a psychological thriller. A movie manticore, if you will. And perhaps just like Dren, maybe not blended quite right. There is one gory scene that sticks out in stark contrast from the rest of the film which felt a bit absurd. Then there are some serious psychological and sociological topics touched on such as nature versus nurture and Jungian themes (Oedipus/Electra Complexes). And those particular Jungian themes make most people unnerved, and might explain why people don’t know whether to like it or not.
So if you’re not queasy when it comes to social taboos, rape, and moral gray areas brandished about with reckless abandon by scientists then you shouldn’t have any trouble watching this film. No matter how you feel about it at the end, at least it was interesting. Which is more than we can say about a lot of movies coming out lately.