Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: Splice

Non Spoiler Review:
Splice is one one of those little gems you may have caught briefly in an online trailer, but received little hype. It deals with two wildcat geneticists, Elsa and Clive (Sarah Polley and Adrian Brody), who have succeeded in creating two amorphous organisms to provide genetic material for pharmaceuticals. When their directive changes to focusing on extracting the valuable enzymes rather than creating the life itself, they decide to carry on their own experiments in private—creating a viable human hybrid organism. It’s not really a spoiler to say they succeed (given the result is on all the movie posters), and the film charts the birth and development of their child.

Ultimately this movie is very successful, partly because it crosses over several different horror genres—from the psychological thriller, to the monster movie, and a bunch of stuff in between. It also provides as much focus on Clive and Elsa’s increasingly dysfunctional relationship and personality problems, as it does on the monster itself.

The acting is top notch. Sarah Polley is always great, developing a character that plays both to sympathy and outrage. Elsa and Clive are in this professional and personal relationship at odds with itself—disagreeing on a personal level over having children, yet on the other, striving to create life in the lab. Each brings different motivations and issues to their actions, leading to the spectacular train wreck that is the last half of the movie.

The hybrid lifeform evolves A LOT over the course of the film, beginning as a cute animalistic infant and developing more and more into something uncannily familiar— a gigeresque creature with a stinger tail persistently waving around in the background. As its traits become more human, the audience is forced to reconcile their own reactions to her, and what she's ultimately enduring as a lab animal/prisoner.

Granted, there are predictable plot points, but even those are moments when you’re asking yourself “Will they really go there?” And they do. Several times. The movie doesn’t pull any punches, and leaves lots to think about. I highly recommend it. It ranks as one of my top horror films of the last few years. Yay, Canadian horror movies! Check it out.

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