PLOT: Clive (Brody) and Elsa (Polley) are super-genius geneticists. Operating under the flimsy pretext that they are "sitting on a cure" for FILL IN THE BLANK, they decide to mix animal and human genes willy-nilly and see what happens.
WHO'S IT FOR? Hmmm... maybe sociopaths? I mean, they are a relatively small demographic, but everybody needs to feel special sometimes.
EXPECTATIONS: If the tagline was perhaps "Whiny Narcissists Play God," then I would have known what I was getting in for. But I actually was excited before the movie started.
Adrien Brody as Clive: I have a weakness for Adrien Brody and I was dead excited to see him in a horror movie. That excitement petered out as the film progressed, but I would still like to encourage him to go the way of horror. He's a really good actor when he's playing a believable character. This time around, he acts his heart out while the rest of the movie spins chaotically around him. I wanted to like him, but by the end I didn't care. It's not scary if you don't have any investment in the characters. "Hey, look!" you say to yourself, "That guy is in imminent peril of death. Thank God--it means this movie is almost over." Score: 5
Sarah Polley as Elsa: It's inflammatory to say that someone "deserves" the terrible things that happen to them, and so I'll try to phrase it as delicately as I possibly can. Elsa f**king deserves every terrible thing that happens to her and then some. Wait, that wasn't sensitive at all. Let me try it again: the b*tch got what she deserved. Well, crap. It looks like my fingers aren't in a PC kind of mood. Score: 3
Delphine Chaneac as Dren: This woman must do performance art, because her control over her body and her awareness of how Dren would move is wonderful. I loved, loved, loved Chaneac as Dren. It was, by far, the most enjoyable aspect of the movie, especially when coupled with the terrific special effects. If this movie had been about Dren and not the dimwitted mercenaries who "made" her, it would've been a better movie. Score: 8
TALKING: Here's what's strange: the dialogue itself isn't terrible, but it isn't used realistically to set up useful or comprehensible situations between the characters. The characters themselves are so inconsistently written that you never know who is going to have what reaction. It just leaves you feeling like the screenwriters weren't even that sure who these idiots are supposed to be. Score: 4
SIGHTS: Okay, so the special effects are pretty darned cool. Dren, the hybrid, is just this side of magnificent in terms of design and implementation. I didn't care for "Fred and Ginger," the amazing lumps of pulsating oatmeal, but maybe that's what it would look like if you tampered with enough strands of DNA. Score: 7
SOUNDS: Nothing close to memorable. A few glimpses of heavy metal and one electronica that is cut short in favor of jazz, but otherwise it's a vacuum. That's probably as it should be, because the real star of the show is the mutant being. Score: 4
BEST SCENE: Dragonfly wings and lovemaking. That was my favorite and that's all I can say without being a total buzzkill. Of course, you have to wade through a lot to get there and I'm not necessarily suggesting you do that.
ENDING: Yuck. I don't mean the ending disturbed me as it was supposed to, I mean BAD, SCREENWRITERS! GO SIT IN THE CORNER AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DID!
QUESTIONS: I do wonder why it's so en vogue to take a really, really bitchin' idea and then use it as a punching bag until it dies of internal bleeding.
REWATCHABILITY: Blargle dargle blech (no).
During the climax of Splice, something really bad happens. I mean the variety of bad that I am, under normal circumstances, incapable of watching, because it haunts me for weeks after. This time, I sat passively through it, only mildly perturbed. You know when people keep pet polar bears and dress them up like cowboys for Halloween and when their pet finally eats their head everyone thinks, "Well, yeah, they had that coming"? That was my reaction to Splice. I didn't care what happened to those idiots, because up until that point they comported themselves with zero attention paid to basic decency, common sense, self-preservation, or any level of kindness.
I can't think of many movies where neither the film nor the characters have any idea what they are trying to accomplish. Think Frankenstein's Monster without the psychology or social commentary. This movie doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up and therefore, it wanders unsuccessfully into all sorts of genres and then dithers off again before any sound conclusions can be drawn.
If Splice had focused on Dren's experience and really fleshed her out, this movie would've blown my socks right off my feet. Instead, the film almost wonders a loud to itself whether Dren is sympathetic, or pathetic, or aggressive, or animalistic, or intelligent, or reactive. And if you're going to make Dren into everything and nothing at LEAST have the so-called smarty-pants scientists in control of her even slightly interested in some of her more astounding behavior. For example, when Dren spells out "tedious" with scrabble pieces, Clive and Elsa have a "huh," reaction and move on. Even the dummies in the audience knew that meant Dren was far more advanced than those two and they were supposed to be Super Brains.
The actors did a good job and the special effects were really arresting. Other than that, it's gross, and not the fun kind of gross. Sour milk gross. Stepping in dog sh*t while walking around in your socks gross. It's a big, gross bummer.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10