Science Fiction Fantasy Horror Mystery   at

HOME page 
Genre Essays 
Book Reviews 
Movie & TV Reviews 
Contributors Guidelines 
Readers' Letters 
Magazine Issues 

Join our news list!

Powered by TOPICA


In Association with
Splice (2009)
Director: Vincenzo Natali

review by Mike Philbin

Families go bad. We've all experienced this. It's hard to make ends meet? One or both of the parents aren't there enough? Too many sacrifices are made in the name of survival? Sometimes, as parents, we just screw up - and our kids are the result. Let's put that into an episode of EastEnders... or, let's make a totally whacked-out surrealist film like Splice?

Storyline: genetic engineers Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) are splicing together the DNA from a range of animals to create new hybrid 'farm beings' for exploitation by big pharma.

The team were given 42 days to make this film and they started one million dollars over-budget. But they did it. And it needs the respect it seems to lack. At times you can see the lack of budget but that is part of its charm (ref: the DNA-conversion user-interface graphics are old-school, in a good way), and its heart is exactly in the right place, right beside its amphibious lungs. This little film just breaks and explores all the taboos, and that's its great strength.

Canadian director Vincenzo Natali calls the tortuous 12-year process of the film's creation, "A miracle of life," and he's probably right. There's an in-depth director interview in the extras that's actually worth watching for once, simply for the amount of struggle that seems to have been involved in the bringing of it to market.

There's a very sympathetic, in fact beautiful, use of 3D in this film. When any other film would have mistakenly gone completely overboard Splice does its best to just stay on point and deal with the socio-genetic consequences... of its odd little family values. The score is great, atmospheric and more than a little reminiscent of John Barry in certain chord structures and resonances. The sound effects are equally convincing, trilling rather than shrieking, and once again: less is more.

Looking back at the trailer, it's obvious that Gaumont pitched this dysfunctional-family film to the completely wrong demographic. They played to the lowest common denominator, the teen horror market that might have seen Natali's other film Cube, and this made me first not want to see this film. If they'd have pitched it to me as an adult interested in complex cinematic experiences I would have been keener to check it out when it was first brought to market, and I'm sure it would have been seen by more people.

Hell, I even loved the choice of framed manga image on the bedroom wall, it was personal; added to the overall character spectrum. Oh, I haven't gone into any detail about DREN (played by Delphine Chan´┐Żac), the offspring, and their surrogate daughter. Well, you'll have to see the film for yourself. "You can never speak of this; to anyone: ever." great umbrella sentiment about the intricacies of both family life and corporate directives.

Splice face

Splice poster

copyright © 2001 - Pigasus Press