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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 15.79%
Just Average: 5.26%
Pretty Crappy: 29.82%
Sucks: 10.53%

6 reviews, 21 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"Always engrossing, even when very much not right."
5 stars

"Splice" is an independent film that has been cleverly disguised as a big-studio summer movie, so a fair portion of the audience may feel uneasy as they watch it. More uneasy, that is; writer-director Vincenzo Natali isn't just throwing the popcorn-movie rhythms off, but finding ways to creep out even a jaded audience.

The near-future potential of genetic engineering will do that. Genius team Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) have strung together a number of breakthroughs to create "Fred" and "Ginger", a pair of synthetic organisms whose genes may contain a bounty of easy-to-isolate (and patentable) DNA sequences. They're ready for the next big challenge, but their employers (Simona Maicanescu and David Hewlett) opt to scale the program back, so they carry their work out in secret, working with human DNA. Though only meaning to see if such splicing is possible, they don't account for the embryo's accelerated growth, and soon have a small tailed biped on their hands.

Though the science in Splice is likely better than the typical Hollywood sci-fi/horror flick in that it's probably only 75% bull, Natali and company are able to make it seem authentic by not obviously overreaching early, and they do seem to at least know enough about the process and people involved to make Clive, Elsa, and "Dren" (the name they give to their creature) fascinating to watch. These guys seem like real hotshot science nerds as opposed to the usual socially-inept pop-culture obsessives we usually get. More than that, Natali recognizes and presents the process of incremental discovery as fascinating, enough that the movie doesn't need jumps or constant peril.

It does have a few shocks and gross-outs, of course. A few of them, especially the ones that occur in the lab, early in the film, are pretty clever. Some are actually disappointing; as much as I loved most of what came before, I was momentarily quite frustrated when the movie not only kept going after a perfectly haunting ending, but did so in what seemed like the most conventional horror-movie way possible. The redemption for that, though, is how even though a lot of the standard-issue horror moments take place off-screen, Natali sets up very uncomfortable situations and doesn't back down from them. The movie is full of reasons for the audience to not like Clive and Elsa, and doesn't make excuses for that.

Even with that, though, we remain invested in them. Sarah Polley is a tremendous asset to a movie like this, and she's kind of perfect for it: Canadian independent film is her main stomping ground, but she occasionally pops up in a Go or Dawn of the Dead without seeming out of place, and Splice fits in both categories. She's great here, making Elsa one of the most intriguing fictional scientists ever seen on-screen; we see driven curiosity, charm, compassion, and mania that play off each other but always seem like real parts of a whole, multifaceted personality. Adrien Brody's Clive isn't quite that complex, but he's just as believable; he makes being the voice of reason uncomfortable. And they're great together. The characters are lovers whose romance feels individual and eccentric without being showily quirky, but they're maybe at their best later in the movie when they are so angry with each other that they can barely speak.

Watching them, and their movie, I wonder if Natali or either of his co-writers has a science background, or at least hangs out with those that do. "Splice" seems to know these people, and the way it's willing to observe and question often makes it much more chilling than a cautionary tale set up to create a worst-case scenario. Even with the slight fumbling at the end, "Splice" is an unusually fascinating sci-fi story.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18359&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/18/10 12:23:13
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2010 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/29/16 morris campbell dull icky and dumb unless your into sex with mutants 1 stars
8/22/12 TreeTiger A very good, albeit, very unusual horror movie. 5 stars
11/10/11 matthew thompson dalldorf Made me cry 5 stars
11/01/11 KingNeutron Nice acting from Delphine, but horribly slow-paced - kept FF at 1.5-2x for most of it! 2 stars
11/28/10 TheyAllFallApart Simply appalling. 1 stars
11/07/10 Real Critic Elsa "There are things we just don't do!" Sex w/3 week old mutants is frowned upon LOL 3 stars
10/29/10 gc If u like watching people have sex w/mutants u will love this movie. Truly absurd 2 stars
10/16/10 reptilesni Illogical & unclear motivations for character's actions. Should've been better. Wasn't. 1 stars
10/13/10 Meep Has some nice moments, but ultimately boring and predictable 2 stars
8/16/10 TravisN Definitely not for everyone, but I found a lot to like in it. 4 stars
6/21/10 Pim The movie kept me interested with terrific visuals, but it's not appropriate for everyone. 3 stars
6/21/10 christy spires This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen!!! 1 stars
6/21/10 Ken Kastenhuber A terrible parenting parable, lame. 3 stars
6/15/10 Ace-of-Stars Not so much "bad" as it was "irritating"! "Dren" was the ONLY sympathetic character in it! 2 stars
6/14/10 Naneek1 Engaging, well, acted, delightfully sick horror-comedy. At least it's not a remake! 4 stars
6/12/10 Ming One of the best sci-fi of the year...Inter spice mating is interesting 4 stars
6/08/10 Eric Olsen The movie was great 5 stars
6/07/10 action movie fan some potential but generally boring and go nowhere story-this years movies have been dull 2 stars
6/06/10 NyJonesy26 Completely awesome is the only way I can describe this movie. 5 stars
6/06/10 chris does adrian brody have bookies to pay back? 1 stars
6/04/10 Ronald Holst If you enjoyed Spices you will be board stiff with this one ! 1 stars
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  04-Jun-2010 (R)
  DVD: 05-Oct-2010


  DVD: 05-Oct-2010

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