Movie Number- 118
October Horrorthon Number- 6
Title- Splice (2010)
Running Time- 104 minutes
Director- Vincenzo Natali
Writer- Vincenzo Natali (story & screenplay), Antoinette Terry Bryant (story & screenplay) and Doug Taylor (screenplay)
Starring- Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac

Two scientists – Elsa (Sarah Polley) and Clive (Adrien Brody) – are on the verge of a genetic breakthrough when they are told by their funding company that they need to quit moving forward, and instead focus in on making the company money.  Unhappy with this verdict, the two scientists go ahead on their radical plan to breed a human-animal hybrid; Dren (Delphine Chaneac) is their result.  Clive continuously warns Elsa of the risks of keeping Dren around, but Elsa insists that they do.  Splice is the story of this couple, and what happens when they start breaking the rules of nature.

Splice is the 2010 equivalent of The Thing, or Alien, but not nearly of the same high level of quality as either.  It asks how far humans are willing to go once the rules have been thrown out the window, and the answer is a startling one.  Splice has some excellent CGI work; for example, when Dren is born, the whole creature is CGI, and it looks fantastic.  As Dren becomes older, her legs are done in CGI, and they too are implemented flawlessly.  It is incredible to see how far CGI work has come, just in the past decade.  There is no substitution for human actors, but CGI is finding its own place in the cinema, and it has a bright future if Splice is any indication.

The story in Splice is a fascinating one, but the problem is that it takes quite a while to turn so, and once it does, the movie ends.  There are a lot of good things happening before the aforementioned shift, but a lot of them are killed by the acting choices made by Sarah Polley.  In fact, Polley almost killed this movie entirely, and if it wasn’t for that shift in story, she would have singlehandedly cost Splice a star or two.  Polley’s character never seems to be going through anything tough for the first 5/6 of the movie.  Everything is too easy for her, and there is nothing at risk according to her choices.  This is a terrible choice because it takes the actor out of the moment, and leaves the audience feeling separated from her actions on the screen.  In one scene, the audience can literally see Adrien Brody trying to drag Polley into the moment, but she was having nothing of it.  This was a huge disappointment, as Sarah Polley’s work in Dawn of the Dead was much stronger.  Adrien Brody was excellent, however, as the nerdy scientist, and Brody always did his best in letting the audience in to his dilemma.  There were some questionable costuming decisions, but Brody’s acting ability overshadowed these (a 40+ year old in graphic tees just looks odd, no matter how “nerdy” the man is supposed to be).  Delphine Chaneac was stunning as Dren.  Her vulnerability and innocence played in nice contrast to the hard character of Elsa.  Chaneac made the audience feel for her character, which is essential to the story.

With beautiful CGI work, some great acting, and an interesting story, Splice is one of 2010’s best horror films, even if it is light on horror.  Unfortunately, the director (Vincenzo Natali) was unable to get Sarah Polley at her best, and this did a lot to detract from the movie.  Splice is still highly recommendable, especially to fans of movies like the Alien quadrilogy, The Thing, and other sci-fi horror films.  Splice isn’t going to overtake anyone’s #1 sci-fi horror film spot (which should belong to The Thing), but it’s still worth the time this Halloween.

 

 

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Branden Chowen
Editor-in-Chief at Cinefessions

Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.