Movie Review: Splice

Movie Review: Splice
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Starring Sarah Polley, Adrian Brody, Delphine Chanaec
Release date: June 4, 2010

On May 21, 2010, it was announced that Craig Ventor, made famous by his work on the Human Genome Project, had successfully created artificial, self-replicating life in a laboratory setting.

For the makers of Splice, the timing couldn’t have been better.

Canada, my own stomping ground, has a long and proud horror history that few people take notice of, and Splice is a smart edition to a genre that has been suffering from remake ennui. Warner Brothers, in conjunction with the good people at Dark Castle, have produced a smart, sexy modern day monster flick that pushes all the right buttons as the debate about biotechnology heats up.

Adrian Brody (The Pianist, King Kong) and Sarah Polley (Dawn of The Dead, Beowulf and Grendel) star as a pair of ultra-hip, cutting edge scientists in the employ of a global pharmaceutical company who have made a name for themselves designing artificial life forms. There first successful project was a pair named Fred and Ginger. The company hopes to profit on the enzymes that the pair create to cure livestock disease, but it’s the dream of the researchers hope to take their research to the next phase. In defiance of their corporate masters, they create a human genetic hybrid and that’s when the fit really hits the shan.

Splice is a surprising flick on many levels. Viewers walking into Splice looking for Species 5 may be shocked by the depth of the script and the performances. Oscar winner Adrian Brody and Canadian sweetheart Sarah Polley portray the emotional complexity of the couple and their relationship to their creation with the skill expected of such renowned actors, but it is French actress Delphine Chanaec who steals the film as the couple’s inhuman creation. As Dren, the genetic equivalent of a can of mixed nuts, Chanaec combines a naked vulnerability, a predator’s instinct and a naïve but aggressive sexuality to elicit a strange combination of pity and revulsion from the audience.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but suffice it to say the movie builds on its uncomfortable nature until it shatters almost all social convention. Director Vincenzo Natali shows a deft hand at maintaining the balance between reality and the movies extreme premise. In fact, the steady pacing, grotesque creature effects and challenging of social and sexual taboos hearkens back to the early work of another Canadian great, David Cronenberg.

It’s been a long time since Boris Karloff was brought to life by a lightening bolt, but with Splice it looks like the monster movie will continue to challenge the status quo.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Extra Appendages.

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