Archive for June 2010

Review – Splice

June 7, 2010

Remember, I generally hate movies.

Splice was no exception.  I didn’t actually know that much about it going in, but it’s been such a dreadful summer for movies that when I saw that it hadn’t gotten awful reviews I decided to go for it.  So, yes, once again, Hollywood got about $10 0f my money because I just wanted the experience of going to the theater, quality be damned.

The irony is that I usually don’t like horror movies (I know, I know, I don’t like any movies – but I really, really, don’t like horror movies).  Basically, a horror movie can result in one of two things: it succeeds and I’m scared (I don’t like that), or it fails and I’m not (I don’t like that).  There’s no good outcome.  Unfortunately, “no good outcome” is a perfect description of this whole summer movie season, so Splice it was.

This movie falls into the second of the categories that I just outlined for horror films – it is an abject failure that didn’t scare me a bit.  While that’s okay with me on an emotional level, on an aesthetic level it’s a complete let-down.

The closes the movie ever came to actually being frightening occurred towards the beginning.  During this scene (they actually show most of it in the trailer) the lead scientist (Sarah Polley) is in the room with her new splice-monster, but she doesn’t know where it is.  Meanwhile, her scientist husband (Adrian Brody) has turned away from the viewing window, and can’t hear her as she calls for him.  This two minute sequence is the one and only truly tense, suspenseful moment in the film.

Unfortunately, it is completely derivative of another film: Aliens.  Not only is it derivative, but it is also vastly inferior.  The thing in the room with her isn’t a face hugging, orally raping, chest bursting, killing machine, it’s a human spliced with animal DNA that will turn into a faux little girl.  And the guy whose attention she can’t get isn’t a corporate goon secretly setting her up, it’s her husband, who helps her raise the little splice-monster girl into a splice-monster adolescent.

Fortunately for the adoptive couple (and for the director), the splice-monster matures very quickly, and it’s adoptive mother is in possession of an abandoned farm that is perfectly suited to raising a splice-monster.  And so, that’s what happens – they head out to the country where we get to watch the loving couple learn the various pratfalls of raising a Splice-monster daughter.  It’s kind of like Three Men and A Baby, only there’s one man, one woman, and the baby has a tail.

All of this goes on for an hour and a half.  The splice-monster throws fits, won’t eat its food, wants to have a pet, learns how to spell, deals with puberty, etc., etc.  When the splice-monster threatens to jump off the roof, only to change its mind and run into its “dad”‘s arms when he says “I love you,” I felt like I was watching a feel-good Disney movie rather than a horror flick.

But then, the movie finally took a turn.  Sure, it took way too long to get there, but I will admit that the final few sequences in the film were at least pretty remarkable, though I still wouldn’t classify them as remotely scary – or good.  I won’t spoil what happens, but I will say that it transcended the monotony of the first three-quarters of the movie and at least started to become interesting – although in a totally disturbing, repulsive sort of way.

Unfortunately, it was too little too late.  Had the movie gone in this disturbing direction from the start, I would have left the theater feeling a little weirded out, but at least feeling something.  Instead, I felt like I had sat through a whole lot of boredom for a payoff that wasn’t nearly worth the effort. In the end, this was a horribly written mash of pseudo-science with fifteen minutes worth of interesting ideas stretched into a full-length feature film.  At one point in the movie, the splice-monster uses some Scrabble tiles to spell out “tedious.”

Well put, splice-monster.