REVIEW: Splice

3 06 2010

You should be warned: “Splice” goes there.  It pushes your moviegoing boundaries in unwanted and unsettling ways, which wouldn’t have bothered me had they not been so unrewarding.  Telling you the exact nature of how it will disturb you would undoubtedly spoil the movie, so I’ll just leave it at a very strong warning against seeing this movie if you are easily offended.  It had my packed preview screening groaning in disgust and shock.

I don’t mind being feeling these emotions while watching a movie, it just has to be done right.  The filmmakers need to present the edgy material and build the rest of the movie knowing the implications of it.  “Splice” simply disturbs you and then tries to act like it didn’t happen.  A heated argument between two scientists whose latest experiment has made them tense and frenzied (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) completely evades discussing unethical and immoral behavior.  There’s no point in destroying boundaries if you don’t explore what’s on the other side of them, and the movie abandons you with the empty feeling of shock value.

Really, this unspeakable scene turns “Splice” from bizarrely plausible to just plain bizarre.  I didn’t think the first two acts were all that bad.  There’s all sorts of parallels to “Frankenstein” as the two scientists create their monster out of anger.  But it’s actually a story about the perils of parenthood.  Elsa (Polley) was raised by an abusive mother, and it forever distorts her perception of the necessity of children.  When Clive (Brody) even brings up the subject, she seems to relate having a baby to having a parasite.  In some ways, she uses Dren, their creation bred from a hybrid of human and animal DNA, to give her the kind of parenting experience she wants.  The movie does a great job of showing us how twisted she really is, mainly through her undying love for the gross thing.  Props also the visual effects department for creating a monster in their own right.

But still … that one part.  It’s unfortunate when one part of a movie stands out so much that it overshadows the rest of the movie.  The scene has unintended consequences, particularly a dramatic shift in tone of “Splice.”  The movie becomes outrageously farcical as it comes to a close.  Because it enters such strange realms, it’s hard to take anything that follows seriously.  And for a movie that tried to sell itself as horror but is in reality all science-fiction, the whole thing just comes off as a jumbled mess.  D+ /