Splice (2009)

Holy shitballs, it’s my last Flavor! Happy fuckin’ Halloween! While this is indeed the last movie in the 2010 edition of 31 Flavors of Terror, be sure to stop by later today for the big finish, where I’ll run through the highlights (and lowlights) of the month. And stick around for the series premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC tonight at 10. I’ll be right here watching, even though it means I’ll have to DVR my beloved Steelers as they take on the defending Superbowl champs. Don’t tell me what happens!

I wanted to do something special for my last movie so I saved one that seemed like it would be particularly good: the gene-bending monster flick, Splice. It sports a top-notch cast and the trailers made it look smart and creepy, which I’m happy to report it is. Also topical: remember that section in one of George W. Bush’s State of the Union addresses about the dangers of cloning? At one point he made a chuckle-inducing reference to nefarious plots to create human-animal hybrids. I have to believe if he knew they’d come out looking like French supermodels, he might not have been so worried.

"Serious question: wanna go home and watch Star Trek?"

The story: Clive and Elsa (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) are a couple of science nerds in charge of a team of genetic engineers attempting to create synthetic lifeforms. You can tell they’re nerds because they wear geektastic t-shirts and work at a place called Nucleic Engineering Research and Development.

(Pause for amusing acronym recognition.)

Their prize creations are a pair of dog-sized pink slugs, affectionately nicknamed Fred and Ginger. The slug things are a breakthrough for the team because their unique bodies produce a special protein with valuable pharmaceutical applications. And they’re kinda cute.

The elation of their triumph is short-lived. Though they now possess the ability to take the next step on the road to mad scientist nirvana – combining designer DNA with that of a human being – the lab’s parent company puts the kibosh on further experimentation and orders them to focus on harvesting the protein.

The mundane assignment doesn’t sit well with Elsa, who may as well have been called Eve, so she convinces Clive to continue their work in secret, just long enough to prove the concept. They succeed in combining the DNA strands, but find themselves powerless to resist the temptation to implant said DNA into a human egg. We’ve all been there, amirite?

A few weeks later, they’re the proud parents of an adorable little monster named Dren. As their mutant progeny rapidly grows into a sexy, bald kangaroo lady, signs of danger begin to manifest. Driven by their egos and curiosity, the two are unable to turn from their dark path of discovery and terror.

Yeah, this kid's gonna have a rough time fitting in at school.

Biggest letdown: For a while I actually found the movie’s ersatz science jargon pretty convincing. At first I even bought the gradual abandonment of scientific objectivity and procedure, given Elsa’s motherly love for Dren and Clive’s devotion to Elsa. But eventually my bullshit meter just couldn’t take any more. For example, when they drive Dren to a secluded farm to avoid detection, she immediately bolts and chases down a rabbit, which she is found proudly devouring. They already know she has the strength of a gorilla, a four-foot, poison-tipped stinger, and a demonstrated killer instinct, yet they have no problem leaving her alone, unrestrained, in a barn with glass windows. These two geniuses are actually surprised the first time she busts loose. Methinks somebody needs to go back to grad school.

Who's a good girl?

Why you should watch: While the gorgeous actress playing her human parts is woefully out of her depth in such a complicated role, the design of the creature Dren is impeccable. The CG augmentations bestow a perfect mix of grotesque and majestic, giving her an air of human vulnerability while remaining at all times alien and vaguely threatening. Outside of that, the movie itself is an obvious cut above most horror fare. The dialogue is snappy and well paced, and the acting and direction are tight. The story goes to one or two decidedly weird places, but for the most part the ride remains interesting and entertaining.

Thank god it's not a speaking role.

Memorable Moment: At one point Clive and Elsa headline a big presentation to show off Fred and Ginger for the company’s investors and other notables. It’s imperative that they make a splash because the company’s financial future hangs in the balance. The giant slugs displayed a sweetly shy affection when first introduced to one another in the lab, complete with a colorful imprinting behavior they’re expected to repeat for the suits. But Clive and Elsa have been too distracted to notice the recent decline in Ginger’s estrogen levels, which are now similar to those of her male counterpart. Think that’ll be a problem?

Choice quote: “Human cloning is illegal. This won’t be human. Not entirely.”

About the Rating System

3 Responses to “Splice (2009)”

  1. […] 31 Flavors of Terror A terrifying movie terror-thon of terror « Splice (2009) […]

  2. Heather Kaye Says:

    I enjoyed watching it with you! I’ve actually had thoughts about this movie since we watched it. I didn’t expect it to be something I actually thought about when it was over. It was pretty cool visually.

  3. glad you had fun! thanks for reading!

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