FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jun 1, 2010

Splice

I kind of wanted to resort to some sensational New York Post-style headlinery and write "Splice...no dice!" up there for the post title, but I couldn't do it. Too lame; I can't lie about having the urge, though, so I'm probably still lame. Anyway.

I'm sure I'll say this plenty more times before Final Girl shuffles off to horror blog heaven (which will probably be very soon after I shuffle off to horror fan heaven) (yes, after), but thank goodness for Meg Wood. In particular, thank goodness for her...umm...less-than-stellar review of Vincenzo Natali's Splice. See, before I checked out her review, I felt very much alone. Most everyone seems to think Splice is the knees; reading all the praise, I had that distinct feeling of "Well then, what movie did I see?".

Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) are a pair of rock star genetic engineers. They've created new hybrid animals by splicing together DNA from different animals. Though their efforts don't look like much more than piles of living goo that resemble genitalia (well, they do), they're ready to throw some human DNA into the mix- not to create some super being, necessarily, but to aid in the eradication of disease. Somehow. Eh, shoddy cinematic science, I don't get it. The drug companies funding their research, however, aren't so quick to boldly go where no rock star genetic engineer has gone before.

Elsa and Clive, therefore, do what any good mad scientists would do: they conduct their experiments anyway. Late nights tucked away in the back of the lab pay off, for eventually the couple hit pay dirt. The DNA does its DNA thing and Dren is born of an artificial womb. Clive thinks things will go badly- the experiment was never meant to be taken this far!- and wants to destroy it; Elsa immediately has non-scientific maternal instincts- womenfolk can't help but feel feelings!- and insists that they do not destroy it.

It's not long before Elsa is dressing up little Dren in frilly things and teaching her how to read. After all, Dren is a human/other hybrid, and as you can expect from a human/other hybrid (see: Species, V: The (Original) TV Series), Dren grows and matures at an alarming rate. As you can also expect from a human/other hybrid (see: Species, V: The (Original) TV Series), Dren immediately stops maturing and growing when she hits the "hot" stage. Sure, she has the legs of a chicken and a barbed tail, but she's human wear it counts- from her exotic face (courtesy of actress Delphine Chaneac) to...oh, right about yon the ol' the vagina.

So, Clive and Elsa need to hide this creation of theirs, especially once that Dren shows signs of intelligence and curiosity. SPOILER ALERT: Clive was right, and bad things happen.

Here, however, is the rub: what happens is...well, it's all laugh-out-loud ridiculous, more Lifetime Movie Network than Cronenberg-ian horror. If you took out the strangely hot hybrid and replaced her with, say, a not-strangely hot blond babysitter, you'd have something along the lines of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Seriously, it's a classic made-for-TV plot: established female is threatened by new female, and SPOILER ALERT: men will fuck anything.

Yeah. You read that right.

By the time the horror actually happens, it's too late to care and you're ten minutes, maybe, from the predictable end. By the time the horror actually happens, I was deeply ensconced in disappointment, however. No, Splice isn't some mind-fuck of a rumination on science and playing God, as I was hoping it would be; in fact, you might be better off (as Meg also suggests) watching the original Clive and Elsa in Bride of Frankenstein. This film wants you to think there's something going on below the pretty surface, but there ain't much beyond some CGI-laden soap opera drama.

Let's put it this way: the film ends with Elsa asking, "What's the worst that can happen?", at which point the person sitting next to me turned and said, "A sequel."

18 comments:

scarina said...

I guess the essential difference between men and women is that men will have sex with someone despite their chicken feet and extra knees...?
That picture does give me the wiggins. Ick.

A.J. said...

Insert bad joke about "men just want a piece of tail" here...

Kangas said...

It just looks like Species minus Natasha Henstridge, and how good can that be? Though I really liked Vincenzo's Cube a whole lot...

Topsyjane said...

What's going on with Dren's breasteses? Her uh. arms are crossed demurely over her, um, brisket-area, as if she's embarrassed by her monstrous dirty pillows. I'm also thinking the vertical line running down her forehead suggests a Rhodesesian Ridgeback DNA was thrown into the genetic mix, or maybe a loaf of Home Pride Butter-Topped Bread was used.

And in that last picture, Dren should be ashamed about eating all the Smuckers™® jelly. BAD mutant.

Ivan said...

Is the critter named Dren in tribute to that episode of Happy Days where Joanie was Potsie's secret admirer and would leave him love-letters calling him "Dren"--which was "nerd" spelled backwards?

Sabrina said...

Oh, ha! Great review. I don't like horror movies, but I kind of wanted to see this because, like you, I thought it would be some deep story about science and God, and would stir up an ethical debate amongst movie-goers. Guess I'll pass. Thanks for the heads up:)

Stacie Ponder said...

"Dren" is indeed NERD spelled backwards. She spells either "dren" or "nerd"- sorry, don't recall which with blocks after seeing NERD on Elsa's shirt. Elsa then gives her the name.

I would love it if this were a nod to Joanie and Potsie, but I doubt it's anything of the sort.

Robert H. said...

Good review, Stacie... not quite sure if the world is ready for a remake of SPECIES.

Vincinzo is now ready for the big time!

The Trick said...

That's disappointing, but I still hope you're wrong, so I'll be going to see it anyway. In addition to the actors, I also love Vincenzo Natali -- at least, the two movies I've seen: Cube and Nothing.

For what it's worth, the director claims it was the studio's idea to rebrand the movie as a horror film, so maybe that's skewed peoples' expectations.

http://www.cinematical.com/2010/06/02/interview-vincenzo-natali-talks-splice-internet-leaks-and-cr/

Stacie Ponder said...

The re-branding is interesting...maybe it will suffer the way Friedkin's Bug suffered as a result. Stupid studios.

Mind you, however, I can't be wrong about it as it's just my opinion that I didn't like it. You may love it, however, and you'll also be right. :) I hope you do love it- I hope EVERYONE loves it, because loving movies is good. Disliking them is bad.

The Floating Red Couch said...

Reason # 39 that women should not be scientists: Stinkin' maternal instincts....

I have never met a Sarah Polley movie that I didn't like (I'm so in love with her),

scarina said...

her forehead suggests a Rhodesesian Ridgeback DNA was thrown into the genetic mix, or maybe a loaf of Home Pride Butter-Topped Bread was used.
And in that last picture, Dren should be ashamed about eating all the Smuckers™® jelly. BAD mutant.

Wait, it makes sense now. The Smuckers Preserves are actually for her split-butter top/hot cross bun head. Really, I can not stop looking at that.

The Trick said...

Yes, good point.

Anyway, I'm still totally on this.

kindertrauma said...

I'm one of the people who really liked this movie! It kept me on my toes, made me use my brain a bit and the acting was way above par. I Thought Polly's character was especially interesting and multi-layered. It didn't bug me that she had those maternal instincts take over. I thought it made sense considering her background and besides, when she first sees Dren she looks like a little bunny. Who wouldn't take care of that mutant? It did kind of get on my nerves when Dren got all sexy. I mean, even before she tries on makeup she has perfect plucked eyebrows? But I let it go because both S. Polly and A. Brody are so off-beat looking that it kind of balanced out. I get what you're saying about the Lifetime movie thing but it seemed to me that Polly's character rises above rather quickly. She still loves Dren and she finds that Dren felt the same way when she discovers the drawings. Ugh, I'm going on and on...but I just wanted to tell you that I did like it very much! If nothing else it does give you much to think about and discuss and I thought the end (in the woods) really delivered the scares.-Unk

CashBailey said...

Stacie wrote: 'SPOILER ALERT: men will fuck anything.'

After looking at those pictures and much careful consideration I decided that... yeah, I'd totally hit that.

Dan K said...

I just saw Splice a couple of hours ago, and I think I need to let a few days and night(mare)s pass before I'm ready to give a final verdict.

I'm glad I saw it on the big screen, because, with just a couple of exceptions (e.g. Fred & Ginger's tongues early on), the effects were top-notch. I'm also glad I saw it with a big crowd, because the plot goes to a couple of places where you're glad you're not the only one...

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

..laughing. Now, some of that laughter is because of how preposterous the situation becomes, and that's a little sad. On the other hand, some of that laughter is of the delicious nervous variety, as in, "If I don't laugh, I might scream, or cry, or have nightmares if I let this movie affect me."

I haven't yet followed the link that The Trick (TM) posted above, but I will. So for now, if I'm repeating anything that director Natali or anyone else said, please forgive.

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

etc.

I think Splice totally succeeds as a very dark comedy about science, parenthood, and the old "nature vs. nurture" debate. The last scene is particularly cynical/realistic about logic vs. common sense, and emotion vs. scientific inquiry.

Sorry that was so long, everyone. I guess the movie hit a chord with me.

Robson, Proprietor said...

Saw it yesterday to make up my own damn mind about it, and the thing just didn't work. It threw a mess of ideas at the screen and didn't really commit to any of them. Brody and Polley were just lost through the thing (with their changes in motivation coming about because the plot demanded them, not because of anything innate to the characters), and it was just hard to care about anything.

Anonymous said...

You guys are gross...I'm shallow, don't do chicken footed, split head dames...yuk. As far as the movie is concerned I thought it was a pretty interesting take on the mad-scientist type movies, and I liked it all the way to the ending, a rather disturbing but entertaining work. As far as Dren is concerned though, I think I could find a human who remotely resembled her if I was going to do the risky...but not that thing!