Kristy suggested that I step outside of my books, and review a movie for the site, so I am giving it a shot. I ask that you be kind. When I first saw the trailer for Splice all I could think was that someone had actually bothered to rip off Species and was trying to pass it off as a new movie. Hell, even the poster looks similar. I was still curious though, and of course I wanted to see it. I will go see pretty much any horror movie (especially sci-fi horror) and since I have low standards (I have seen every Uwe Boll film in theaters), I typically do not leave disappointed, despite the crap that they pump out of the box office nowadays. Anyways, Kristy and I planned on seeing Splice when it came out, so when she told me she got passes to an advanced screening I jumped on it.
I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. I went in expecting to watch a ridiculous sci-fi thriller like Species only without all the sex, and without Michael Madsen, both very unappealing prospects I must say, but the movie was so much more than that. Rather than use the “experiment gone wrong” concept to fuel a bunch of “jump” scares and chase scenes in a dark lab, the story went the complete opposite direction. It was slower paced, and much more thoughtful than I had expected, and as the story developed it turned out to be delightfully creepy and disturbing.
Splice is about two scientists who create an artificial life form using human DNA in their lab, and the results and consequences of their experiment. It’s a pretty familiar plot line, but Splice separates itself from the pack in how the main characters’ attraction to, and obsession with, Dren (the experiment) is portrayed and how it all spirals out of control so quickly. What makes the story almost literary is its use of mirroring and role reversal. Each of the main characters shifts during the movie, transforming into something different than they were at the start, and the shift in power that occurs as each character changes is fascinating, and extremely well done.
Another aspect of Splice that I loved was how it did not use sex for empty entertainment value like so many other horror movies, but rather it was used as a weapon, designed to disgust, to make you squirm in your seat. There were some instances where the audience groaned out loud, or others where a ripple of awkward, uncomfortable laughter rolled around the theater. It’s a movie that is designed to play on the ideas of right and wrong, and some scenes are indeed just plain wrong. And I don’t want to make it sound like the movie is nothing but gross outs, it has a lot more to it than that. There are parts that are just downright hilarious, and they are supposed to be. It’s not like watching a B-movie that is funny because it’s so bad.
As well as having well timed humor, the effects and make up fit in perfectly. They are nothing mind-blowing, but at the same time, not so overdone that they look absurd. As Dren grows and begins to look more human, she actually becomes creepier. It is fine to see an experimental life form that looks like a little monster, we expect that from movies, but when the thing looks just a step away from human, there is an atavistic revulsion that gets triggered, and the make-up and effects hit that nerve beautifully.
There were a handful of things that I did not like about the movie, but for the most part they are minor. For example, the soundtrack is a bit cheesy and over the top, and I kept expecting something to jump out during the crescendos. I am very glad that nothing did, and it was almost cool how misleading the score was, but in the end I felt that a bit more subtlety could have been used. Another irritation was the sound effects they used for Dren. There’s only so much high pitched shrieking and squealing that I can handle, and rather than be unsettling, which was most likely the intention, it comes off as incredibly annoying, especially in the scene where they first try to feed it. The ending was also predictable and a bit stale, which was the biggest issue I had with the movie. Up until the last fifteen minutes or so, it had not gone anywhere I expected it to, and losing that trend right at the end was a let-down.
All in all, I would definitely recommend the movie. It’s dark, intelligent, and it actually feels new, instead of just warmed over crap that’s been sitting the back of some desk drawer for a year. Any time a movie is able to take an old concept and put a new spin on it, I appreciate it, and Splice is no exception. Just be warned that if you want an “edge of your seat” thriller type movie like the trailer makes it out to be, you will be sorely disappointed, but if you enjoy more suspenseful, psychological thrills, do yourself a favor and check it out.