Though there’s a veritable ocean of horror film being banished to Straight-to-Video-land (or not being picked up for distribution at all) that I can’t speak for, Horror films that get shown widely are almost always utter shite. This is a genre where the highest profile material comes out of a production company from Michael Bay. So it’s super-refreshing to see Warner Bros. pick up independently-produced Splice, a hybrid of horror and sci-fi that, while nothing masterful, is able to put forth an interesting story that is just as horrifying as any kill scene in the movie.
The movie starts off as straight-on science fiction. A husband/wife team of genetic scientists (played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) have just created some unholy form of life that, unimportantly, looks like an incredibly disgusting penis. But this little tool is the least of their aspirations. Looking to artificially create a human being with slight genetic modifications but forbidden by their boss from doing anything so potentially immoral, they go to work in secret.
Eventually they happen into creating Dren, probably creepiest thing you’ve encountered since watching Kim Cattrall talking about her dried-up vagina in Sex and the City 2. If you haven’t seen Sex and the City 2, Dren will probably be the creepiest thing since I gave you the image of Kim Cattrall’s dried-up vagina.
Typically, complications for the worse arise along the way. But writer/director Vicenzo Natali and his fellow scriptors are good about keeping the story spiral into a story that blames everything bad that happens on one crazy serial killer being crazy. Splice is a creepy and fun film, but it’s principally about one woman and her pretensions over repeating the same mistakes that her mother made. If you can believe that.
But let’s not undersell it’s more genre elements. Dren is an absolutely haunting presence, a frightening monster that makes Splice one of the better creature features of recent memory. Though she appears in a notably non-humanoid body at the beginning, she looks more and more like a woman as she grows older, and that just makes her scarier. The special effects are worth mentioning too; working off of an actual on-set actress, the special and visual effects alter her appearance in seamless fashion. You won’t be able to shake her image from your head.
It’s a refreshingly solid horror movie, grounded in a strong sci-fi story, sold by fleshed-out characters, and given teeth by a monster that you’re frightened by but can’t keep your eyes off of.