Brandon's Sundance 2010 Review: Vincenzo Natali's Splice
by Brandon Lee Tenney
January 23, 2010
When Vincenzo Natali introduced Splice -- his latest film after Nothing, Cyper, and his cult-smash Cube -- tonight at its world premiere, he simply said that this "film has no moral boundaries." Instead, it's probably more accurate to say that Splice has reset the moral boundary. This creature-feature is both an homage to and a worthy entry in the monster flick catalog. It's horrifying, mesmerizing, and always spine-tingling. There are images in Splice that will haunt my dreams. Some of them for very different reasons than you might expect. And that's the most entertaining piece of Splice; it's just so unexpectedly unimaginable.
In short, the film is about a couple, Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), who work together as experimental bio-genetic engineers. They've spliced together various animal's genetic code in order to create a creature that is, genetically at least, perfect. But when the pharmaceutical corporation funding them wants to move forward and synthesize an enzyme that the creature produces, Clive and Elsa decide to take their research beyond the bleeding edge of their discipline while still trying to retain their own intimate relationship. And then it veers and swerves and twists and turns. What a trip.
Tonight I felt things that no movie has ever made me feel before. I've felt the heebie-jeebies before. I've been skeeved out and I've even had the prickly-icklies. But Splice managed to arouse some… uncomfortable emotions. A lot of them unquantifiable. Brody and Polley dive into the roles of Clive and Elsa so completely that whatever happens on screen is as good as real. The blend of practical makeup effects and CGI is remarkable. And there's even a scene that pays homage to one of the all time great monster films, Young Frankenstein. It's this love for monster flicks that oozes from the screen. Along with lots of other oozing.
Though the most mind boggling thing that Natali is able to do with this sublime film is tell a genuinely heartfelt love story and a pitch-perfect tale of new parenthood and even an oh-so-creepy female Oedipal bit. Of course, in the most perverted, subversive way imaginable. Fucked up is probably the best way to describe Splice. Fucked up in all the right ways.
Brandon's Sundance Rating: 9 out of 10