Monday, 13 September 2010
It’s been a long, long time since we had a decent mad scientist movie, and then along comes Splice with not one but two scientific types driven by hubris to play God. The way it splits the mad scientist role in two and then plays one half off against the other is just one of the many things to like about this very smart – and sometimes ghoulishly funny – film.
Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) are married scientists who’ve just created an altered life form out of the DNA of a bunch of different species. It secretes proteins that have dozens of commercial opportunities – so many that the company they work for wants to put its efforts into exploiting what they’ve got rather than continuing to push the boundaries. This isn’t enough for Elsa, and she creates one last creature – this time, with human DNA. Clive is horrified, especially as what was supposed to be a small scale test results in a living being that looks not quite human. Its' rapid growth means it can’t be hidden in their lab for long, but when they relocate to it an abandoned barn they soon discover the child-like creature – who they’ve named Dren (Delphine Chaneac) – is both more and less human than they thought.
The mix of the totally impossible with the creepily plausible is usually the best thing about mad scientist movie and Splice is no exception, making a little girl with cloven hooves and a demonic face seems utterly plausible, totally chilling and all-too human all at once. The way the relationship between the passive Clive and the take-charge Elsa plays out provides a string of surprising twists, and in case you forgot this was supposed to be a horror film there’s a bunch of gore-splattered scenes worth of Cronenberg at his body-horror best. It’s silly, it’s utterly serious, and it’s always edge-of-your-seat: Splice is a slice of horror genius.
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #482)