Canada (dir. Vincenzo Natali)
Cast: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac, Brandon McGibbon, Simona Maicanescu, David Hewlett, Abigail Chu, Amanda Brugel, Stephanie Baird
Synopsis: Superstar genetic engineers Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) specialize in splicing together DNA from different animals to create incredible new hybrids. Now they want to use human DNA in a hybrid that could revolutionize science and medicine. But when the pharmaceutical company that funds their research forbids it, Clive and Elsa secretly conduct their own experiments. The result is Dren, an amazing, strangely beautiful creature that exhibits uncommon intelligence and an array of unexpected physical developments. And though, at first, Dren exceeds their wildest dreams, she begins to grow and learn at an accelerated rate – and threatens to become their worst nightmare.
Review: It’s really hard for me to understand why so many film reviewers (horror genre film reviewers and general film reviewers alike) are falling all over themselves to praise “Splice”. There was nary a bad review out there for this dreck, I kid you not. Even the TIFF couldn’t get enough of it, going so far as to name it as one of the top ten Canadian films of 2010. Uhh… can someone tell me why? I get that it’s a Canadian film starring two Academy Award winning actors (Sarah Polley and one-hit wonder Adrien Brody) directed by Toronto’s own Vincenzo Natali (director of the mind-numbingly incredible “Cube”, which if you haven’t seen, is basically the godfather of the torture porn genre, specifically the “Saw” series), but my gosh is it ever awful. Who in their right mind could find this passable entertainment? Why would anyone consider this to be a ground-breaking, or even enjoyable, sci-fi horror film? I simply don’t know.
Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody play Elsa and Clive super-cool, ultra-hip, rockstar bioengineers whose names are a reference to actors Colin Clive and Elsa Lancaster from 1935’s “The Bride of Frankenstein” , a film you’ll kinda wish you’d watched instead of “Splice”. Elsa and Clive spend their days isolating proteins and splicing together animal DNA to create ugly penis-tongue-turd-slug monsters (yeah, they look like something you’d get from splicing a penis with a tongue and a turd-shaped slug) from which to isolate more awesome proteins from… or something like that, the science here is pretty sketchy.
Penis-tongue-turd-slug monsters, “Ginger” and “Fred”
Their propensity to splice animal DNA together is reminiscent of South Park’s Dr. Mephesto and his fetish for adding unnecessary asses to various animals.
But unfortunately penis-tongue-turd-slug monsters and four ass-ed animals aren’t quite enough for Elsa and Clive, nope… this dynamic duo wouldn’t be ultra cool rockstar bioengineers unless they were breaking all the rules of science, conducting illegal late-night genetic experiments while listening to cool Canadian music (Holy Fuck and Cancer Bats) and acting all unethical and shit. So of course you can only guess what these two geniuses come up with… splicing human DNA together (a big no-no) to create a completely hairless woman (Dren) with a wasp tail, kangaroo legs, hands for feet and a cleft head. Oh but don’t forget boobs and a vagina… gotta make sure she’s “almost” human were it counts, right? Dren basically follows the same exponential growth rate as the chick from “Species”, where the creature conveniently stops growing at what scientists would refer to as, in technical terms, the “hawt” or “totally doable” stage.
What follows in the wake of Dren’s creation is a downward spiral of stupidity. Childless Elsa, high on her maternal instincts, of course takes the opportunity to dress up her cute, chirping kangaroo-mutant baby, Dren, in little girls clothes and teach her how to communicate using Scrabble tiles, humanizing her creation in a way that is wildly inappropriate. Ah, women and that darn maternal instinct. Clive, the voice of reason, constantly balks at Elsa choice in keeping Dren alive until he finds himself attracted to her (explained by the fact that Dren has some of Elsa’s DNA) and furthers his attraction by uhh, having sex with his step-daughter/science project. If I could actually pinpoint the exact moment I began to dislike Adrien Brody, it would be somewhere halfway between me seeing 2010’s “Predators” and seeing him make sweet, sweet inter-species love to his de facto child.
What begins as an allegory for career-driven couples having their first child and suffering through all the responsibilities and hardships of raising that child (i.e. enduring the terrible twos and the rebelliousness of adolescence) ends in absolute ridiculousness… let’s just say Dren eventually meets the same fate as one of the penis-tongue-turd-slug monsters. What I hated more than the stupid twist and the dumb, eye-roller of an ending, was the fact that gender roles are just so typically presented in this film. Of course the female, Elsa, is a maternal nightmare, making Dren into the little girl she never had and giving her a childhood that slowly begins to mirror the unhappy one she lived through. And of course the male, Clive, will be the voice of reason until he fucks anything with two legs and a vagina… as mutated as those legs may be. The atypical gender reaffirmations are just so goddamn trite in this film it’s almost comedic.
This is truly a step backwards from “Cube”, which was a strongly written psychological horror film. “Splice” is just so laughable it baffles me as to why people are throwing themselves over one another to praise it as “smart” (Rue Morgue magazine), “supremely effective” (Toronto International Film Festival) and an “A- film” (Entertainment Weekly). Fuck, it also made #7 on Stephen King’s top ten list of films for 2010. Am I really the only one who sees how much this film sucks? So what if it’s reminiscent of “Frankenstein” or David Cronenberg’s “body horror” early work (i.e. “The Fly”), that doesn’t stop it from being laughably bad.
What’s the worst that can happen (as Elsa often repeats in the 100 minutes of the film’s run time)? Answer: “Splice 2: Re-Splice”.