Splice (2009, Vincenzo Natali)

A pleasantly surprising flick from the guy who made ambitious indies Cube and Nothing, now with wider scope, more ambitious sfx and an oscarrific cast in Adrien Brody (fortunately much better than in Giallo) and Sarah Polley (of No Such Thing). Feels shorter than it was – full of twists and changes, the movie doesn’t slow down to relish its concept, but throws out and leaves behind any number of ideas and directions it could’ve explored as it hurtles forward. I’ve seen complaints about weak screenwriting and plot holes, but I was satisfied. No need to wrap everything up in a neat package.

David Hewlitt, star of Nothing and Cube (and Scanners II: The New Order), and Simona Maicanescu (of Marc Caro’s Dante 01) are company bosses over married couple Brody and Polley, who are rebel genius geneticists fond of splicing things in more scientific/less ridiculous ways than The Human Centipede. Or perhaps Brody is more the rebel and Polley is more the (psychologically disturbed) genius. They split their attention between two cloning projects: publicly “Fred and Ginger,” two creatures that look like leather sacks full of chipmunks, and secretly “Dren,” which looks like Lily Cole with creepy legs, a tail and hidden Wolverine wings. Polley has huge motherhood issues and the human couple are torn between love, disgust, scientific curiosity and fear of being caught over their humanoid beastie (bred from Polley’s own DNA).

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Finally the movie destroys itself. Ginger turns into a male, and he and Fred kill each other with their poison spikes in front of the shareholders. Stashed in the family barn, Dren seduces Brody (it’s surprisingly easy to seduce Brody) and they make sweet interspecies love. Hewlitt and Brody’s little brother (an actor who’s been made up to look comically similar to Brody) crash the party and both wind up missing or dead at the hands of Dren, who has suddenly turned male like the chipmunk-sack before her. Dren, now looking less like Lily Cole than a terrifying, winged CGI effect, rapes Polley while stabbing Brody to death, the movie making up for any baby-Dren cuteness with a sudden turn towards queasy horror. Nice sequel setup with a pregnant Polley meeting with boss lady Maicanescu is the payoff from all her psycho-mother issues earlier.

Afterwards, went to pick up Katy at Sex & The City 2 and caught the end of that, featuring a closeup of a widescreen TV showing Cary Grant in The Talk of the Town, improperly cropped to fill the screen. S&TC2 has no respect for cinema!

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