Review: Splice

Written by Jon Schwarzmann on . Posted in Film

When Splice, which opens in theaters everywhere this Friday, first screened at January’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, two of our very own writers had the dubious honor of taking it all in.

Now, six months later and with the film’s distributor ramping up a massive ad blitz, we thought it would be as good a time as any to post their initial reactions to that original cut. For those of you planning to see the film, Kristin Clift’s spoiler-free version is directly below. For those of you who couldn’t care less, scroll down for Jon Schwarzmann’s spoiler-heavy review.

Unspoiled Splice Review

By Kristin Clift

I’m no film student. But it’s not every day you get to discuss a movie with the creator himself. I guess that’s what makes the Sundance Film Festival so rad.

Needless to say, there’s always a risk when you screen a movie at Sundance. Splice was messed up Evil Dead I-style, but astronomically not as cool. (If you’ve seen Evil Dead I, you know what I’m talking about.) I recommend seeing the Evil Dead movies — Bruce Campbell is awesome, but in no way do I recommend seeing Splice.

Splice is about two hipsters/lovers/genetic engineers who combine a bunch of animal DNA to find a special protein that will help cure several typical human maladies. However, under the radar of their superiors, they illegally and unethically throw human DNA into the mix.

It could have potentially been a great film. They managed to get Adrian Brody, so it had to be at least semi-tolerable, right? Wrong. Director and screenwriter Vincenzo Natali crossed the proverbial line — and then turned around and ravaged it. I can’t be too revealing because, if you are curious (or sick) enough to go see this film, I don’t want to ruin anything.

Natali states that “Splice is very much about our genetic future and the way science is catching up with much of the fiction out there.” The film touches on the issues of the unstoppable forward motion of science and the implications on society and humanity. It was sci-fi, horror, and soap opera, all rolled into one. As with most sci-fi movies, there was a huge scientific blunder — but after all, it is fiction and you have to suspend the fact that everyone knows that Mules and Ligers can’t reproduce. (I’ll say no more.)

Some scenes were so laughable they were just absurdly uncomfortable. The entire audience busted into guilty laughter because we all knew we weren’t supposed to be laughing — but the awkward melodrama was just too much.

Splice was supposed to be a horror film, but it wasn’t scary — it was just icky. It wasn’t gruesome in a fun-happy slaughtering zombies and/or Nazis kind of way. No, it was just sick and wrong. If Freud were alive today, he would have a heyday on Natali’s psyche. Serious mommy issues.

The last (and extremely cliché) line of the movie was, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Someone in the audience called out, “A sequel!” Everyone hates those obnoxious people in the audience, but I couldn’t agree with him more. I never would’ve thought Splice would get picked up by a distributor. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard it did. Gross. Don’t go see it, okay?

Natali showed up after the screening to do a question-and-answer session. He clarified that in horror films the people are the real monsters. He played that notion up all the way. Keep that theme in mind if you go see the movie, and pay attention to what Natali says about human nature. The “people are the real monsters” motif was the one redeemable aspect of the film.

Ultimately, I think Natali has some extremely deep unsettling issues of his own. If the goal of Splice was only to mentally disturb people then it was successful at accomplishing that task. You’ll never be able to look at Adrian Brody the same way ever again. If reading this has made you only curious to see it, I repeat, just don’t. Here are some words of warning that might change your mind: Oedipal bestiality.

I’m going to try to scrub those images from my eyelids now.

————–Stop reading here if you don’t want Splice spoiled!!————-

Spoiled Splice Review
By Jon Schwarzmann

I saw this movie after a 20-hour day at the Sundance Film Festival, and Splice was actually a really great way to end it.  If you’ve heard what people are saying about it, well, I’m going to say things a little differently.

First off, don’t ever go see this movie. After reading this post, hopefully you’ll have no reason to — I will discuss key plot points that will ruin it for you anyway. Initially I thought this was supposed to be a dramatic sci-fi, which it was for the first little while. They used some pretty common clichés that I rolled my eyes at or sighed heavily for.

To catch you up to speed on the story: two married scientists, who happen to be absolutely brilliant, are working for a pharmacuetical company. First, they splice a bunch of animal DNA together to make a pair of organisms capable of producing all sorts of proteins that would be beneficial to livestock and such. But this isn’t enough for Elsa — she wants to use human DNA in their splicing program. So she does! Her doormat of a husband, Clive (Adrien Brody, what happened, this was bad!), goes along for the ride. This results in a new life form that Elsa basically adopts as a child. It develops fast and reaches “puberty” pretty quick.

At this point, Splice truly shines. Through some pretty weird and unbelievable turn of events, Clive has sex with it. Okay! I can deal with two blue CG aliens doing it, but a weird human/made-up-creature-monster sex scene is way too out there. But this is actually where the movie moves from the dramatic into the comedic. Yes, most of the 400 audience members, along with my cousin and I, were laughing pretty hard — not just at this point, but for the rest of the film.

Of course, Elsa walks in on Clive and Dren (the “monster’s” name) as they are in the act, she storms off, he chases after her and they get into an argument. This wasn’t any old argument, this was the argument. There was no real flow to it, because whoever wrote the script just started writing every known couple-arguing cliché in and called it good. Adrien Brody acted well, but Sarah Polley (Elsa) is a terrible actress! I know it wasn’t just the actors faults though. The script was bad and the direction could have been good, if only in any other setting.

If that wasn’t too much for you, wait till Dren switches gender (one of their earlier creations did this too) after “dying” and being buried to then come back and start killing. Still not enough? This part is legen-waitforit-DARY! Dren is now a male, right? Well, after killing Clive’s brother, their boss, and knocking Clive out, this creature attacks Elsa and pins her down. Through sobs and tears Elsa asks what it wants and — in the first real words this creature speaks — it says, “Inside you.”

Another roar of laughter from the crowd. Rape is nothing funny, but in the context of an impossible genetic bastard child and a crummy performance built on the rest of this movie, it was completely ridiculous.

But guess what, kids? We’re still not done! As was quite easily predicted, the last scene of the movie reveals Elsa is pregnant with Dren’s baby.

This movie was something beyond just good or bad. It reached that level of so bad, terrible, disgusting and poor, it went so far down it actually came back to the realm of awesomeness. Yet, in the realm of cinema, a question has to be asked to the filmmakers and everyone involved with Splice: How could you ever think that making this movie was a good idea?

My hopes and dreams were that this movie would not get picked up, but (for some unknowable reason) Warner Brothers decided to give it a wide release on June 4th. According to rumors and Internet buzz, WB forced director Vincenzo Natali to surrender the rights so the studio could take it back to the editors.

Despite thinking this was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, I’m still going to see it opening weekend to find out if a big studio could save such a flawed, piling steam of… you get the idea.

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