Monday, June 07, 2010
When I first saw the above image of Dren, the genetically created chimera at the center of the new movie "Splice," I was immediately smitten. I just think it's such a fantastic and beautiful design. I couldn't wait to see the movie and now I have.
Without getting into a lengthy review I just want to say that this is likely to be my favorite genre movie of the year, much as "Let the Right One In," "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Host" have been in previous years. It's essentially the "Frankenstein" story for the modern world. Even the two main characters are named Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) after Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester. Clive and Elsa create a pair of lifeforms from DNA taken from a number of different animals with the goal of harvesting pharmaceutically useful material from their creatures. When the company they work for becomes more interested in the harvesting than the creation, they decide to try one more thing before they are repurposed, and add human DNA into the mix. The result is Dren (Abigail Chu/Delphine Chaneac), a smart, lovely, creature with an accelerated metabolism which causes her to age rapidly. The two scientists become emotionally attached to their creation, and find various reasons not to destroy it. Eventually though, as Dren matures, she decides she wants a mate of her own and things go wrong from there.
Given the type of movie this is, you know things can only end badly, and the process of getting to that point adds tension and dread to the experience. Both Clive and Elsa are well rounded characters whose seemingly stupid decisions, seem like decisions real people would make. Dren is the real star of the movie. As I said, she's an absolutely beautiful creation, and a return to a truly sympathetic monster. Thankfully this movie did not turn into "Species" once Dren matured. I found myself very attached to her and emotionally engaged with her character, yet wary of her at the same time. It was also interesting to watch the fluid dynamics of how both Clive and Elsa interacted with her as the movie progressed.
"Splice" could almost be described as David Cronenberg's version of "Frankenstein" (it would make a nice double feature with Cronenberg's "The Fly"), only much warmer and without Howard Shore's music. I highly recommend this movie.