- 27 Jul 10
Here be a beast that deserves a place alongside Bride of Frankenstein or David Cronenberg's Rabid.
It took Vincenzo Natali almost 14 years to make Splice a reality; the script was always sound but the CG simply wasn’t there yet. It was well worth the wait: the film’s selective and inventive use of the same technological advances that defined Avatar make you gasp and wonder what the cult director of Cube might have done with a $300 million budget. In any case, he hardly needed the dough: Splice is a superb new thriller created for the astonishingly low, low price of $16 million. Even for a writer-director capable of creating a Philip K Dick inspired wonderland (Cypher) on a shoestring, it’s a sterling achievement.
Never mind the Benjamins, Splice is much closer in tone and quality to Aliens than it is to Mr. Cameron’s most recent venture. A discombobulating Freudian reworking of the Frankenstein myth, the film follows genetic engineers and Wired cover stars Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) as they meddle unnecessarily with nature. Under pressure from their sponsors at Big Pharma, the achingly hip young scientists attempt to accelerate their research by creating a chimera using their own DNA. The result is Dren (Delphine Chaneac) an increasingly human hybrid, whom Elsa dotes on.
This queasy cod domesticity, already under threat from snooping supervisors and secret childhood traumas, is blown apart when the creature reaches sexual maturity. Suddenly the makeshift family are caught up in creepy games that have more in common with Greek tragedy than with, say, Twister.
It’s only fitting that a movie about a chimera is itself a gallimaufry of science fiction, eroticism, horror and coming-of-age narrative. Mr. Natali deftly picks away at the new voguish hysteria around genetic research to exploit ancient dreads. In Splice, motherhood is a brutish, wrenching experience and fatherhood is dangerous in the way Jim Morrison once memorably described.
Ably performed and beautifully shot in a wintry, clinical palette, we immediately feel we’re in the presence of a beast that deserves a place alongside Bride of Frankenstein or David Cronenberg’s Rabid. Here be monsters.