Saturday, December 18, 2010

Horror Film Review

Splice (2010):  If you check out Yahoo Movies or, you'll notice that the critics reviewed this film more favorably than regular folks like me and you.  That's always a red flag in my opinion.  I wasn't wrong.

I didn't like this movie.  I really should have, though.  I mean, with names like Adrien Brody and Guillermo del Toro attached to it, why wouldn't I?  More likely than not it's because I hate it when films try to cram morality down my throat.  Cautionary tales are fine and dandy, but's about as subtle as sledgehammer to the forehead.

Clive and Elsa (Brody and Sarah Polley) are biochemists or genetic researchers or something really scientific and have been splicing together DNA from a variety of animals to create proteins that may hold the key to better treatments for the most awful diseases.  The result are two blob-like creatures the size of poodles named Fred and Ginger who have oddly shaped tongues.  Elsa decides the next step should be to splice in human DNA just to see if it can be done.  Clive is horrified but of course agrees after about 12 seconds of soul searching.  They said they'd never let it grow past the embryo stage.  Yeah, right.  So they eventually succeed but given the heavy-handedness of the story, we know immediately that one way or another, they're both doomed. 

What they create starts out looking like a two-legged, hairless, albino rat.  That loves sugar.  It conveniently ages rapidly and within a few days, it becomes a cute bald girl with backward knees who, well, trills and clicks a lot.  Since the experiment wasn't authorized, they have to move it out of the lab to Elsa's abandoned family farm.  There's an underdeveloped subplot about Elsa being raised by a crazy mom on this farm that confused me more than anything.  I think it was supposed to help explain why she used her own DNA in the experiment.  You know, afraid to have a kid the normal way because it might turn out crazy.  Right.  Having it this way really worked out well.  By the way, the acronym for their company is N.E.R.D. so Elsa decides to name the thing Dren.  Honestly, I almost screamed at the TV screen.

Things finally pick up during the last 30 minutes.  Trying to explain what happens would take way too long and this post is already too damned wordy.  Suffice it to say everything goes to hell in a big hurry.  Remember what I said about being doomed?  And 'doomed' doesn't necessarily mean dying.  Splice is almost Shakespearean with its pathos.  No wonder the critics liked it.


Acting:  Well done for the most part.  There is a manic quality to Brody's performance that's a little off-putting and Polley is almost too good at being annoying. 
Story:  Genetic fiddling isn't a new idea, but I've never seen it taken in this direction before.  Keep in mind that that doesn't mean it's a good thing. 
Direction:  A bit lethargic which is weird considering the subject matter. 
Production Values:  This is a big-time Hollywood flick so they're about as high as you can get.  Gore:  Not a lot.  Which means not enough. 
Ending:  Disturbing and frustrating.  There is a surprise I didn't see coming, but what happened after that made me want to yell at the TV again. 
Verdict:  Should you see it?  Are you a rabid Adrien Brody fan?  If not, then I can't recommend it.  If you are, go watch Predators instead.  Or The Experiment.  Or The Jacket.  Or...

My Rating:  2 out of 5

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