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Splice Movie Review

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Author: John Lee

Splice is destined to become a horror classic along the lines of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. Though not in that lofty category, the two films do probe similar ideas.

Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley play Clive and Elsa, a pair of young, hotshot scientists working in the field of genetics for a major pharmaceutical company called Newstead Pharmaceutical. Clive and Elsa are not just coworkers but cohabitating lovers as well. Clive and Elsa are working on mixing DNA from different animals to create a new species capable of producing a new medical protein. Newstead is funding their research in exchange for ownership of any groundbreaking discovery. It's always about money, isn't it?

Eventually Clive and Elsa succeed in creating two hybrid animals that they name Fred and Ginger. These animals are capable of producing the protein that Newstead is seeking.

Newstead is eager to start making the protein, but Clive and Elsa want to go farther with the laboratory animals. In fact, they want to inject one of the animals with DNA from a human to see if it can conceive. However, all Newstead is interested in is the protein since it represents many billions of dollars. They have no interest in getting into human genetics and the enormous amount of negative publicity that it would surly generate. So the company prohibits Clive and Else from going farther with their research and orders them to start producing the protein, otherwise they will completely pull all funding.

Clive and Elsa think they are above such orders (they are already nearly "rock stars" in the field of genetics research, both having previously appeared on the covers of magazines) and decide to secretly go ahead with their cell splicing, human genetics experimentation. Elsa injects one of the creatures with her DNA, and amazingly it conceives and births yet a different animal. This animal is about the size of a human baby and looks like an alien with wide eyes, a long tail and very small arms. It also squawks a lot.

Wishing to hide their "baby" (named Dren by the proud scientists) from the rest of the world, they take it to Elsa's cabin in the woods and begin to raise it. Mostly everything goes well until this hybrid human reaches an age corresponding to a human teenager, and then things hit the fan big time. The cute little laboratory human becomes one of the most ferocious and scary monsters in recent movie history.

Like Frankenstein many years ago, Splice is really about human ego and the audacity of acting like a God. In fact, this movie pays homage to that earlier masterpiece ("Clive" was the name of the actor Colin Clive who played Dr Victor Frankenstein in the first movie, and "Elsa" was the name of Elsa Lanchester who played the monster with the Dairy Queen hairdo in The Bride of Frankenstein). Clive and Elsa see themselves as kinds of Gods in their quest to create life. When their "baby" is born and then grows faster than they are able to contain it they find themselves in all kind of trouble.

The performance of Boris Karloff in Frankenstein is generally considered one of the best acting performances in the history of film because of what he was able to convey using pretty much just his eyes. The actress Delphine Chanéac, who plays Dren, pulls off another acting tour-de-force by showing an astonishing range of emotion behind heavy makup and costume. As the young creature you can see the wonderment and awe in her eyes as she experiences things for the first time. Then as she continues to grow into adolescence you can see her temperament change as wonderment is slowly replaced by rage as hormones kick in.

This is a smart movie for thinking people. Oscar winner Adrien Brody (The Pianist) and actress Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter) are heavyweights who give amazing performances. If you come to this movie expecting to see just another blood and guts monster movie you may be disappointed (although the end of the film does contain one of the most horrifically unexpected endings in recent years). But if you want to see an intelligent, scary and ultimately devastatingly horrific horror film then this one is for you.


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About the author: John Lee is owner of the movie reference website

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