Monday, 10 October 2011

Movie Review (Yay): Splice (2009)

Vincenzo Natali's Splice (2009) is your everyday parahuman fiction movie with added flavour. If there was a classic example of twisted science and genetic mutation in film (as it turns out there are quite a few) this would be it.
The plot does seem to be a bit predictable in the beginning with all the hybridization of a human with an animal. The opening credits have X-ray images morphing into the logos of the production houses which was quite a fascinating way of editing and it also fit with the 'metamorphosis' theme of the film.

Figure 1: Splice Movie Poster
The colour scheme of the movie also has a massive effect on the mood of the film. The green and grey of an x-ray is what the viewer is put in mind of while watching it, which makes it evident that that is the inspiration for it.

Figure 2: X-ray lighting

One just sits there thinking, 'This is going to go so wrong for the protagonists' because the movie starts out as all horror movies do, with ambitious and daredevil-y souls. Having said that, there are many bits that do tend to surprise the viewer. The hybrid Dren (whose name is the opposite of Nerd because the creators of this film knew their audience) continues to reveal different abilities- from breathing underwater to growing wings. She is a rather original creature and as reviewer Duncan Bowles rightly states "is entirely new and therefore, entirely unpredictable". There are many bits where one associates the creature with Voldemort from the Harry Potter (2005 - 2011) movies or sometimes even Paul from the movie uh Paul (2011) or of the Ikran from James Cameron's Avatar or The Mother of Grendel, played by the ever so fabulous Angelina Jolie in the movie Beowulf (2007) or Angel from X-Men: First Class (2011) or that one creature from Star Trek whose name one just can't remember.

There is also a lot of focus on the difference between the genders. There is a point where Dren transforms into a male after being a female for a long period in the film. The wings especially have distinct characteristic changes as she morphs into a male variant of her species, showing sharp edges and less delicate and feminine features than the ones on the female variant. This does raise the question of her being able to procreate through the method of parthenogenesis ( a form of reproduction where the fertilization of the ovum in a female is not required by an independent male) which does not take place.

Figure 3: Female Dren
And of course, there is the moral aspect of the whole concept of scientific experimentation with human DNA. As much as the world might benefit from the success of such experiments, the level of error remains so high that the risk is massive. Also, with the human mind being so very logical and argumentative, the whole concept of creation of life is still a mystery. As a result, what we do not yet understand, we cannot manipulate.
It wouldn't be a surprise as to why this hybrid (or any artificially created human-animal hybrid) would 'turn on it's creator'. As it is only partially human, it has the feelings and instincts of it's other animal components. The mixture of human and animal emotions can be very volatile.

Figure 4: First encounter with the new born creature
There are also fragments of the film that get the audience thinking of what is considered bestiality and if it should be considered to be so as Dren is part human.

As a side story, the company for which the protagonists Clive and Elsa work have them create a new organism that closely resembles a flaccid penis or as Peter Bradshaw would like to call it "an enormous leathery, yet slimy, scrotum, with a mouth that looks like the aperture of a penis".They do this in order to create a protein to combat disease. They believe that they have created a male and female of the same species but as the plot is required to progress further, the female transforms into a male and that leads to a rather gory massacre of the organisms as they are placed inside a large glass container and meant to show the world their 'love'. Instead, they kill each other. Because that is just the general order of things.

As reviewer Vic Holterman says "What follows starts out weird, moves to along to “creepy” and eventually ends up at “oh… DUDE!!" "
Splice is a rather different movie by still maintaining the generic science fiction and horror aspect of the genre to which it belongs. It does get a bit weird in certain regions and tends to cause a conflict within one's mind but it is an entertaining movie and has grasped the concept of human and animal hybridization rather well.

 Bibliography and Illustrations(ography):


Figure 1: Natali, Vincenzo. (2009).Splice.

Figure 2: Natali,Vincenzo.(2009).Splice.

Figure 3: Natali,Vincenzo.(2009).Splice.

Figure 4: Natali,Vincenzo.(2009).Splice.


Bowles,Duncan (2010) Den of Geek Review online at
(Accessed on 10th October 2011)

Bradshaw, Peter (2010) The Guardian Review online at
(Accessed on 10th October 2011)

Holterman,Vic. Screen Rant Review online at
(Accessed on 10th October 2011)

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