Monday, October 11, 2010


Between Frozen and Splice, it’s beginning to look to me as though 2010 has actually been a good year so far for horror movies, merely with the caveat that all the ones worth seeing were the ones nobody actually saw (for those keeping track, the three highest grossing horror movies of the year so far -- not counting Twilight: Eclipse, which you shouldn’t -- have been the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the remake of The Wolf Man, and the fifth Resident Evil movie, and no doubt at least one of these will soon be outdone by Saw 7). In fairness, though, in Splice’s case, a large part of the problem came from its story, which -- in order to maintain the film’s surprises -- meant that the trailer only showed footage from the first half hour of the film, leaving potential audiences to assume the film was some lame Species ripoff.

It is a shame too, as aside from some surface similarities -- the film’s plot involves Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as scientists that specialize in splicing the DNA of various animals, and decide one day to flout anti-cloning laws and make a human hybrid that rapidly develops into a seemingly intelligent adult (played by Delphine Chaneac as an adult, and CG as a creepy baby and toddler). It’s at this point that the movie begins to move in some unexpected directions, and it’s really not fair of me to spoil them, so I’ll have to move on to somewhat vaguer comments.

First, there is the subplot of the two spliced together creatures the couple make before creating Dren, their semi-human test tube baby. Named Fred and Ginger after…well, you should know who, the demonstration showing them to the scientific community goes awry in a brilliantly Gallagher-ish way. It’s a bit out of place with the rest of the film, but it was such a funny scene that I simply don’t care. Also, while the acting is surprisingly good all around (yes, that is always a nice surprise in a horror movie), special mention has to be made of Adrien Brody, who is just an unrepentant creep throughout the whole film. He’s smug, judgmental, quick to anger, and about as quick to make bad decisions as the average cast member of the Jersey Shore. He’s the kind of wonderfully awful character that really should be popping up in every film.

The film isn’t without its flaws, however, and like a great many movies its main weakness is at the climax, where it feels the need to devolve into a standard monster movie instead of the intelligent moral quandary we’ve been enjoying up to that point. Sure, for what it is, it’s well done, but I’m kind of tired of movies continually luring me in with an interesting and unique first and second act, and then turning into a hundred movies I’ve already seen before when it comes time to try to wrap everything up. Not only is it completely unnecessary, it’s also rather insulting to assume that nobody in the audience will be satisfied unless the film completely shifts gears and becomes a different, less imaginative movie for us.

Still, while that is aggravating, the bulk of the movie is really good, and well worth watching. It’s certainly a great deal better than most of the theatrically-released efforts this year, and while that may be somewhat faint praise, it should really take what it can get. In this troubled economy, movies shouldn’t really be so damned picky.

Rating: ***

1 comment:

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