Splice (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on July 6, 2011  | 
Madman | Region B | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | 103 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac
Screenplay: Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, Doug Taylor
Country: Canada
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Man has always dreamt of being God. The history of literature is filled with stories of man creating life in an attempt to appease some megalomaniacal need. From the golem, a creature from Jewish folklore, to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein aka The Modern Prometheus (Prometheus being a Greek Titan of myth who challenged Zeus and was punished for it), man's quest for the power of a God has been ever present. On this subject, cinema followed in the footsteps of literature. One of the earliest silent films was J. Searle Dawley's 1910 film Frankenstein, and the entire 20th century followed suit with an almost constant reinterpretations of Shelley's original text. As we moved towards and into the 21st century, and as science has become more easily accessible, moviemakers have had to evolve their stories to reflect current events. Just stitching together body parts was no longer suitable for an audience that craves more from its cinematic tales. Films like Species and its sequels look into the tragedies that can occur when modern science allows man to play God.

It is here Splice lies.

By combining the DNA of several animals, hot-shot scientists Else Kast (Sarah Polley) and Clive Nicoli (Adrian Brody) have managed to synthesise two artificial beings (nicknamed Fred and Ginger) that naturally produce a potentially profitable medicinal product that the company sponsoring the experiments is desperate to take advantage of. When the company threatens to end the program to focus on creating a synthetic version of the protein, Elsa decides to buck the system and adds human DNA to the mix, creating a being they name Dren (initially a special effect, but played as a child by Abigail Chu, and an adult by Delphine Chaneac). There are a few problems with Dren though: the first is she shouldn't exist as the company ordered a halt to the program, and the other is she ages extraordinarily fast, and becomes increasingly difficult to conceal.

Initially Clive wishes to end the experiment, but Elsa immediately bonds with Dren, and becomes more and more reckless with her 'child' to the point where her lack of professionalism becomes a risk to both their careers. Dren's presence causes more of a problem when the Fred and Ginger experiment backfires with drastic repercussions, resulting in the loss Elsa and Clive's "hot-shot" status.

Forced to move Dren somewhere else, Clive and Else continue their work in a remote barn on Elsa's childhood property, but unfortunately, like most females daughters, Dren starts to reject her 'mother' causing Elsa to treat her with disdain, much like the way her own mother treated her. As animosity sets in between Dren and Elsa, it becomes a dangerous game, and this is not an unruly child, but instead a creature whose understanding of the human condition is nil. This of course leads to disastrous results...

The Frankenstein influences are apparent with the story, even with the choice of the main character names of Elsa and Clive (as in Elsa Lanchester and Colin Clive from The Bride of Frankenstein) though the theme of a horrifying father/son relationship is exchanged for a similar mother/daughter aesthetic.

Director Vincenzo Natali, whose previous films include the spectacular Cube and the average Cypher, has an amazing eye. His ability to slowly draw you into a scene with the combination of slow moving close-ups and geometric sets really get you involved in this film, and you care what happens to the characters, which isn't due just his eye, but also the amazing performances of Brody, Polley and Chaneac.

While on Chaneac, it would be remiss of me to not point out what an amazing job she does of playing Dren. This character/creature could have easily been something that the viewer has no attachment to, like in almost every cinematic version of Frankenstein, but her beauty, her coquettishness and most of all her physical acting abilities really sell what a sad, lonely, and powerful creature Dren is. Also, any beautiful girl who is prepared to shave her head for a role must be dedicated to her craft.

Chaneac's performance is powerful, but one can't bypass the special effects in this film either. Originally Splice was supposed to be Natali's follow-up to Cube over ten years ago, but with the effects of the era the creature would never have been as sympathetically realised as what it is now. Some of the effects are subtle, and some are more obvious, but they all maintain a pretty good sense of realism throughout the film.

All in all, this is a tragic horror drama that is so well presented and so well acted that I have to say: if you haven't seen it yet, stop wasting your time reading these words and go and hire it. It may not be a regular re-watcher, but it is certainly an enjoyable piece of film.
Madman has given Splice an impeccable hi-def visual presentation, in its original 1.85:1 ratio.
Splice is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and is a spectacular. There is a lot of nuances to Dren's vocal performance and it sounds brilliant.
Extra Features
Straight away there is an interesting menu option on this disc. When the disc starts you get the option of the UK or Aus menu. Depending on the choice, you get different trailers for other films. The UK option takes to trailers for The Losers, The Last Exorcism, The Loved Ones and a Mars Bar ad. The Aus option gives you trailers for Let The Right One In and Monsters.

Interview with Vincenzo Natali is an excellent interview with the director where he discusses the films origins, working with a real geneticist, his influences and all that other stuff director's talk about in these things.

Featurette – A Director's Playground looks at the processes the director went through to get performances from his actors, sets and effects. All the footage takes place at the time of the filming so there isn't the reflection in the interviews that were present in the previous interview.

Behind the Scenes should have really been incorporated into the 'A Director's Playground' featurette to make a longer feature as it seems to be more of the same stuff. There is a little bit of over-appreciation of each other but it doesn't get too out of hand.

Trailer is... surprise, surprise... the trailer of the film.
The Verdict
This is a great film with some great acting and it won't disappoint fans of monster films. In one of the extras, Natali says the best horrors are the ones that have a degree of drama in them, and Splice has it in spades.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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