Splice

Rating:

“Horror isn’t usually my thing”.  That’s how I planned to open this review and then I realized that I say that an awful lot.  Because I end up watching an awful lot of horror movies.  So it looks like it is my thing and I’m just not particularly self-aware.  Staying true to form, I stick with the mainstream and my most recent foray into the genre is the Vincenzo Natali helmed Splice.

Splice is a bio-thriller about two scientists bent on creating life-forms in order to cure disease.  Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) have already created two, um, blobs.  Fred and Ginger are ugly little CGI loogies that supposedly carry the genetic key to curing disease in livestock.  While their backers are thrilled, they want to stop there and make that cure a reality.  Clive and Sarah?  Not so much.  They want to continue on, making an ugly little CGI loogie with human DNA so they can cure human disease.  So they do.  Not with the consent or knowledge of their backers, of course.  And – in a twist that will truly shock you – things do not go as planned.   Let the horror begin!

First, let’s deal with the plot.  It isn’t entirely bad.  Underneath the indecipherable technobabble, there’s an interesting core of ethical dilemma.  Of course, the ethics are never directly addressed.  I think we’re supposed to get the notion that using human DNA in such a way is bad when the result is a horror movie.  But that little core is interesting.  Interesting also is the blending of some character instability with the basic tenets of the plot.  Not the basic instability implied by illegally and unethically creating the Human Loogie in the first place, but additional layers that prompt actions, add some tension and seem to promote really bad behavior.

On to the characters!  Clive and Sarah are problematic.  They have to be wacky for the plot to proceed and that noted instability makes the wackiness a little more intense.  That’s good.  Unfortunately, they are also bland and boring in the hands of these two actors.  Even in all the craziness, Brody and Polley fail to infuse their characters with any sort of real punch.  They read their lines, but they’re both far too distant for us to invest in them, their relationship or their eventual fate.  It’s too bad – they’re both good actors, but they simply are not good here.  Too reserved, too clinical, no chemistry.  The Human Loogie Adult (Delphine Chaneac) isn’t a character as much as a device and as such has little to do.

What about the visuals?  The ugly loogies are terrible CGI.  They are not just ugly; they are also obvious in their fakehood.  Also crappy is quite a bit of the Human Loogie as it goes from amorphous blob to something more interesting.  Those legs?  Interesting concept, exceptionally poorly rendered.  There is some good looking stuff towards the end, but it’s a pretty long wait and the pay-off is minimal.  The gore is mostly just gross.  As are all the sex scenes.  Gross gore is an acceptable concept; gross sex is just…gross.

In the end, Splice fails to come together.  It isn’t scary, the characters fail to engage and the promising premise is left to flounder in a sea of bad CGI and impenetrable technobabble.  Two stars, not recommended.

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