Friday, June 4, 2010

review | Splice

BIO-ILLOGICAL | In the wonky creature feature SPLICE, Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are cast as a pair of brilliant geneticists — brilliant geneticists and TOTAL FUCKING MORONS, this being a horror flick and all — who show a flagrant disregard for George W. Bush's 2006 State of the Union address by engineering one of those pesky human/animal hybrids during their experimental DNA mixology. What emerges from their laboratory womb chamber as an adorably hideous (and/or hideously adorable) molerat-ish critter quickly metamorphizes into something equal parts ethereal and demonic: a chirping feminine anthropoid mutant (played by Abigail Chu and Delphine Chanéac, with an assist from some truly nifty CGI) with a poison-dart tail, avian leg joints, and an excitable childlike nature. (Think: What if Björk was raised on the island of Dr. Moreau?) Polley's maternal instincts kick in, Brody sets his brow to perma-furrow, questionable moral decisions are made, and for the ensuing 45 minutes or so, Splice weaves a good bit of wink-nudge dark humor into a Cronenbergian ickathon of disquieting biological unease... and then everything goes so very wrong, beginning with a sex scene best described as awwwkwaaard.

From there, director/co-writer Vincenzo Natali (1997’s Cube) gives into wheezing genre conventions: the usual climactic monster-movie bloodbath, characters who inexplicably hesitate when they should be defending themselves with a rock or a brick or a pair of barbecue tongs, and one of those final-scene Big Reveals that’s supposed to make you go: OH MY GOD, HOW PROFOUNDLY CHILLING, but during the moments that immediately precede it, you’re already like: YEAH, YEAH; JUST CUT TO THE PROFOUNDLY CHILLING SHOT ALREADY, FILM. Basically, anyone paying attention will be way ahead of Natali’s escalatingly psychosexual “shocks” because he blatantly telegraphs them all during Splice's much more effective first and second acts. What starts out as an entertaining and unusual story about the inevitability of parents screwing up their children devolves into laughable midnight-movie fodder that draws such shattering conclusions as: Men are horny jerks! And: Women will do anything to have a baby! And: It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature! And, of course: If your mongrel offspring sprouts wings, it is probably in your best interest to decapitate it forthwith!, which is one of those old chestnuts that must be stitched on a throw pillow somewhere. C+ —Jasper

Rating: R. Running time: 104 minutes.

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