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Raggedy Adams is an alien dwelling in Birmingham, living vicariously through the flickering of a projector on a white screen. He's drank the Kool-Aid of modern cinema. Will you?

Sunday, 18 December 2011


10. Splice

Days behind review schedule: Nearly a month. Ugh.

Alternate Title: “Grow, Dren, Grow!”

The Gist: The Fly gets raped by Hollow Man… in a good way. :S

Currently listening to: "There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards" by Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

The Experience: As I said in my previous blog, never underestimate the value of friends who generously gift you with things you normally wouldn’t spend money on. In this case, I received a rather generous gift card of two months free movie rentals and streaming from Lovefilm (end of plug), and I’ve since been making it my business to catch up on as many of the films I hadn’t watched or needed to rewatch as possible. And so, we come to a film that I’ve been meaning to watch all year: Splice, a quirky science-fiction body horror film from Vincenzo Natali, who also directed the similarly quirky Canadian sci-fi horror film Cube.

If there is a moral at the heart of Splice, it’s that appearances, like Canadians, can be deceptive; sure to your face they’re obliging and friendly almost to the point of naiveté, but the second you turn your back they’re back to clubbing seals and selling tar sand as

starship fuel to the highest bidder, and I say that as someone with immense pride in their dual Anglo-Canadian citizenship. By a similar argument, if you create a completely new species of animal using all the best bits of other animals, chances are you’re going to get either a delicious Christmas dinner or some unexpected side-effects.

That, unsurprisingly, is what happens when husband and wife scientists Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley decide to take their genetic research to the next level by creating an animal-human hybrid, despite their corporate sponsors not really having the stomach for yet another weird mutant test-tube baby on site. So, like any good scientists, they decide to go ahead and do it anyway, because hell, you only live once, right? What emerges from the artificial womb starts off as an angry-looking sting-ray thing, which in turn sheds its skin to form a weird fleshy bipedal hamster thing, before rapidly developing into an adorable little bald girl with hyperactive intelligence (fuelled by what I can only assume are the Canadian equivalent of Tic-tacs) and legs that do not obey the laws of physics. While all this is going on, Adrien and Sarah aka Clive and Elsa go through weird marriage issues, which are amplified by the fact that their rapidly aging “child” has a barbed tail.

Tolstoy said that “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, and Clive and Elsa’s marital problems make the Simpsons look like the fucking Waltons. Over the course of the compressed lifespan of Dren, as the little bundle of mutant chimera joy comes to be christened, both parents oscillate between loving and wanting to kill her, particularly unnerving given Clive’s sudden shift from infanticidal pragmatism to some (MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT!) freaky-ass incest.

So yeah, it’s one of those “like The Fly but” movies, in this case “like The Fly but with more tits”. There’s really not a lot I can say without ruining the film, as many of the sequences actually do exceed my ability to do them justice, except to say that some of the more icky moments of the movie are not purely due to gore. Vincenzo Natali seems to be determined to be the David Cronenburg of the 2000s, and Christ on a cucumber does he hammer that impression home with this film, along with some very troubling home truths about parenting.

 Okay, look, that last paragraph feels like damning it with faint praise, but the simple fact is this is another one of those films that needs to be seen to be believed. Sure, saying that a film is “like” another is fine as long as it stands on its own merits, and Splice more than justifies its own existence. And, since it’s now out to rent or own on DVD and can be streamed through programs like Lovefilm (I swear I’m not being paid to plug them), there’s not really any excuse for you not picking it up immediately. But then of course I’m one of those people who doesn’t “get” modern horror films, so maybe you’ll be happier rewatching the Saw films back to back, you craven douche.

I drank the Kool-Aid. So should you.

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