June 6, 2010

I went to see Splice.

So over the week I hyped up (a little) the fact that I was going to see the movie Splice. The real reason being I just wanted to get out of the house for a few hours, but also it's been a while since I've been bothered with a mainstream Hollywood horror film (I'd given up).

I did a little minimal research on the film just to brace myself, then off to the theatre on opening day Friday the 4th. I didn't do a review or anything on that particular day because I was too busy screaming.

I'm not going to spoil the movie for you, don't worry. But it means just for that I'll have to be extra vague with you. After a fiasco with the projector the movie started 10 minutes late, but oh well. The credits start rolling. I was all ready to give some pseudo-analysis of this movie until two words flashed on the screen.


And my mind just shut down completely and I started mentally screaming, "NOOOOOO!"

Let me tell you something about Dark Castle films. The studio got its start making darker & edgier remakes of William Castle films like Thirteen Ghosts, House on Haunted Hill (and the sequel) but also turned out original material like Ghost Ship and 2009's Orphan which I also saw, and no don't get me started on that one either. My problem with Dark Castle is not that they make bad movies per se--a few of them are more guilty pleasure status and then a few of them are truly great--but somehow with regards to their horror fare, once you've seen one you've gotten the gist of them all. That may be here nor there for you, but in any case in many ways Splice wasn't the exception to that.

If you've not seen the trailers, the run down of Splice is this: hipster science couple Elsa and Clive, tired of having to do science for The Man (or in this case, The Lady), defy common sense, ethics, Geneva Conventions, and most domestic laws and launch a secret project to combine human DNA with animal DNA to create a new organism. The first time they tried this they ended up making male and female... slug like things dubbed Fred & Ginger (haaah) but the company they work for decides they'd rather synthesize some protein instead because they're afraid of dubious moral and ethical concerns. Clearly Elsa & Clive are not and  combine the DNA of a human woman with their current project and bring a strange new life form to term, whom they call Dren.

Dren is an exciting experiment, kind of like a baby, and after a hesitant start, the couple begins to raise the... creature like a little girl-child. Supposedly she's going to have a shortened life span anyway so they get to watch her whole life cycle. But because, you know, this isn't legal, they have to keep moving Dren around and finally move her out into the country side where things quickly go to hell.

I can't spoil this movie because if you read a quick summary or actually watch it in a theatre (or bootleg it, I don't judge), everything comes rushing at you a mile a minute and you will repeatedly scream, "WHY DID NO ONE SEE THAT COMING?!" It was that kind of movie. It had the characteristics of most latter-day Dark Castle horror films: freaky bad science gone wronger, woman with a troubled past, irritating characters, shady, affably evil authority figure, and creature fare. And, really, in this sci-fi horror setting, those elements make sense and work! ...or, actually WOULD have worked.

This is a pretty decent movie that had the potential to be even better, but I'm not sure where this movie went wrong, or I can't really pinpoint it. The other thing about Dark Castle films is when/if they start going downhill, they go down FAST and they take you with them. Maybe director Vincenzo Natali wanted to blow our minds so much for the second half of the film he just slammed in as much squick as the studio would allow. Maybe there was some serious executive meddling although I can't fathom why. This movie just tried to do too much. There was an underlying message about science that was kind of ambiguous, fine I can handle that. Throughout the whole movie you'll hear characters talking about their ethical and moral obligations shortly before saying "fuck that" and carrying on. There was even some stuff about beauty standards for... like 5 minutes in a scene. What exactly WAS Elsa's family history that Clive thought was so important to throw that out there but is only hinted at? And what the hell did it have to do with anything? And the most important question you'll ask during two surely infamous scenes: DID. YOU. REALLY. JUST?

So much going on, not enough time. Cynically I started to wonder if these were just big grabby sequel hooks because horribly inquisitive people like me will run back to the theatre in search of ANSWERS. And if so, they totally got me. My ass will be in that seat for Splice 2 Electric Boogaloo because my brain is broken and I need to piece it together.

So I'm going to see Toy Story June 18th and it'll probably be in the same theatre and I'll probably be screaming at flash backs.

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