Horror Movies

SPLICE. Science fiction horror and laboratory drama

In 1997, a certain Vincenzo Natali drew the attention of the film world to his cubic, low-budget work…


23 November 2023

SPLICE. Science fiction horror laboratory drama

…, garnering applause, nominations, and hopes for a better future. Absolutely deservedly so, as Cube was an innovative, well-scripted, and excellently executed piece. Since then, I’ve been somewhat attentively following Mr. Vincenzo’s endeavors, although, to be frank, he doesn’t spoil me too much. Apart from the famous cube, Splice was only his third (with a good approximation), standalone film that has graced the cinema screens. Almost no one remembers the quite good Cypher, and, worse still, the absurd and grotesque, yet in my opinion, excellent Nothing. Will we remember Splice? I’m afraid not, and it’s probably better if we forget it as soon as possible. Let M. Night Shyamalan serve as an example; his work slid down the slippery slope, but still held hope for something better. Vincenzo Natali seems to be following a similar path.

And the beginning of Splice does not herald anything bad. The raw and cold shots, in a restrained color palette, occasionally taken from an interesting perspective, grab attention. There’s a sense of a laboratory atmosphere where someone is engaged in science, not multimedia projection of holographic slides on a large translucent table or pointlessly replicated vertically and horizontally on a set of screens. It seems relatively realistic and down-to-earth. Dark, mysterious, intriguing. But all of this bursts like a soap bubble pierced by a blunt, rusted needle of absurdity.

Splice Adrien Brody Sarah Polley Delphine Chanéac

As lovers of cinema, we are inherently naive, and we get sucked in, especially by what trailers show us. And the trailer for Splice suggests that something will suddenly scare us. That a creature created by two dedicated scientists will be featured. A creature not human but undoubtedly possessing some human characteristics, rapidly developing, posing a threat, unpredictable. Scientists are there, the creature is there, even of the female gender. But there’s little to be scared of. No, it’s not a horror; it’s more of a laboratory science fiction drama, or something vaguely labeled as “mystery.” And the titular creature is the first and probably the biggest misunderstanding of this film, at least from the moment it is dressed in a dress. Yes, in a dress. It is entirely nondescript, lacks flair, makes cute human faces, and purrs like a cat in heat. At some point, it’s no longer clear whether the creature is still a scientific experiment or perhaps the adopted child of the two main characters, as everything seems to be heading in that direction.

Splice Adrien Brody Sarah Polley Delphine Chanéac

Even the physical traits that distinguish the creature from humans become less clear over time, which, on the one hand, supposedly justifies the plot, but on the other, seems like taking the easy way out. Especially since it doesn’t impress from a technical standpoint, nor is it a groundbreaking special effect. Thus, as a plot axis and pretext for events, it appears very weak. But that’s just the beginning. Observing the development of the creature and the accompanying events is boring instead of intriguing, and amusing instead of unsettling. The closer to the end of the film, the greater the feeling of disappointment, which is a natural defense reaction to what Natali serves us. It’s enough to mention that the cinema hall erupted in laughter several times, although there was nothing intentionally funny on the screen. The disastrous ending fills the cup of bitterness.

Splice Adrien Brody Sarah Polley Delphine Chanéac

Apart from decent cinematography and the initial atmosphere, it’s hard to find anything good in this film. Despite having an Oscar-winning Adrien Brody and the once-nominated Sarah Polley, nothing positive comes out of it. Natali doesn’t like crowded sets, so the entire cast consists of just a few names, including the obligatory David Hewlett, who must always appear with Vincenzo. No distinctive characters, no good dialogues or acting, no interesting plot solutions. Nothing. Predictable, boring, silly, disappointing. Perhaps someone will find Splice to their liking. I just can’t quite pinpoint who, so I’ll simply recommend avoiding a trip to the cinema.

Author: Przemek Romanowski



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