But SciFi and Horror are my favorites. Which is difficult because there isn't ALOT of good films in this genre and there's less and less each year. And as I watch Trisha Yearwood as a puppet in some music video I have on mute, I feel now would be a good time to reflect on a science fiction film that really caught my interest which I finally got to see today.
I had high hopes going into this film for several reasons. For starters, it's directed by Vincenzo Natali, a wild director and artist who has done literally everything. From making documentaries about other obscure directors, to storyboarding saturday morning cartoons from the 90's. His best work though by far, and I dont mean shorts or else I'd include the 'Paris' segment he did, is CUBE.
Cube is a fantastic film about a bunch of strangers thrown into a technological maze of cubes where each cube room houses a deadly clever killing machine. Sort of like SAW but alot more clever than those films. Except maybe Saw II....but thats a big maybe. Saw II was based on another movie's script anyway. Blah blah blah.
Point is, this guy is a cool director.
The other reason I wanted to see Splice was due to the rather unique look to the visuals.
The trailer and other clips showed a rather sickly but clean cut look to the films. And the monster design was realistic and fleshy and disturbing.
Originally I wondered if Chris Cunningham had anything to do with the films effects or cinematography. Not so!
The final reason as to why this film made me prick up my eyebrows was that Guillermo del Toro was producing. And despite helming excellent films as a director himself, last time he produced a film we got the WONDERFUL film The Orphanage which is that rare spooky flick that manages to be scary without reliance on blood or gore. Sadly it was in Spanish and had English subtitles. Meaning the illiterates in this country (99% of the population it seems these days) didnt bother to see it. But they of course all rushed to see a abominable piece of crap with a similar title called The Orphan which was so mindnumbingly awful that I hollowed out my body and filled it with wasps and heaved myself into a ballet recital.
So, all that aside, I had rather high hopes to see this film. It's a rarity that body horror type of filmmaking comes along anymore.
Sadly however, I must report back that the film opens with a loud MEH and ends with a small MEH. It is MEH incarnate. It is why MEH exists. It is so MEH in fact that if I had all the MEH in the world and I piled it into a dump and then lit it on fire, the MEH fumes would not be as pungent as the solid MEH that oozed from this movie.
MEH means mediocre, for those not intune.
Some parts of this movie were OK-GOOD and alot of parts were BLECH. Hence the MEH.
Have I mentioned its MEH? Here's why!
First unbelievable problem comes with our main characters. Not to say they weren't believable PEOPLE (or nerds). Just not believable as scientists. They work at a genetic lab in some large city. Both are very quiet rather plain individuals and so are their coworkers. However their workspace and home is surrounded by........designer toys? Munnies and Dunnies and all sorts of other Kid Robot style Jeremyville looking indy toys and figurines. Some of which are huge. And they all painfully stick out. And for the most part, as LOUD as these toys speak to the characters personalities, it seems like the scientists don't notice they are there. They don't seem like the type who would collect giant vinyl nicknacks. Or giant posters of old anime films. It seems like these two stumbled into a graphic designer's house, killed the person, hid their body, and then decided to not bother redecorating. Each time the camera moves inside their house, this weird stuff breaks the tension of the film. And it doesn't even move.
Lets pretend for example that the inside of the prison in the Shawshank Redemption looked like a Burger King with giant puppet dinosaurs dancing inside. That's the kind of jarring bizarreness these people's surroundings have. Luckily not too much of the film takes place in their apartment but rather their laboratory, which is a creepy sterile beautiful set that pretty much all the good parts of the film occur in.
And like I said earlier, I can't believe Brody or Polley to be scientists. Polley gets some actual character development throughout the film. We subtly learn that she had an abusive mother and that emotional baggage causes an emotional roller coaster ride of misplaced maternal instincts when she begins to love the mutant creature they create as her own daughter. Which technically, the mutant IS her daughter, in what I assume was meant to be a twist in the movie that wasn't really a shocking or interesting revelation and just eats up a couple minutes screentime.
Brody on the other hand gets no development at all. He can act his ass off, but he spends most of the movie suspiciously being wary of the mutant and being a wimp up until he decides to have sex with the monster he helped create in what might be the shortest worst 'lustful romance' arc that's been in a film since Star Wars Episode 2.
The movie also takes too many liberties with how dumb or smart these people are meant to be. At the beginning of the film, in a very scientific fashion, we are shown two sorta-cute monsters that look like what would happen if a penis and a potato were made into a pet. The scientists casually mention these things are spliced from lots of different animal DNA. However the actual details of the splicing aren't ever touched upon. Neither are what animals they used to create the monsters in the movie. The monsters all have stingers by the way. Why? How? Did they splice DNA from a fuckin bee into these things? Why give creatures you need to cure cancer giant stingers? Why give them DNA strands (from frogs I can only assume) that allow them to change gender at will? These scientists are smart enough to create living masses of tissue full of cancer-curing compounds but they can't remember to declaw the potato monsters they made? DERP? DERP DEE DERP?
This happens a few times.
Eventually they take the potatopenis monster's DNA and inject some human DNA into it using cool sciency gadgets that almost lend credibility to the two main characters. The fetus grows to full size in days and Sarah Polley reaches in to get it out because somehow they cant open the fish tank vacuum cleaner they keep it in.
It proceeds to suck in her arm and sting the living shit out of her hand. Leaving her hand looking like swiss cheese and filling her with venom.
So what do the SCIENTISTS do? What any people with doctorates would do when facing a dangerous mutant fetus.... they keep it in a tupperware box and dont worry about the giant venomous tail stinger thats like 4 feet long protruding out the potato fetus creature.
So, they come in later and it looks dead. But not really it just shed it's skin and turned into a little mewtwo looking creature. Which you can see in that clip I linked to above. It's rather cute.
And over the course of a few scenes we get to see glimpses of it growing into a rather human creature and getting smarter and almost becoming cuddly. They name it DREN which is Nerd backwards. Dren basically becomes the mutant daughter that these two sorta wanted. She looks like a human being but with a ridge going down the middle of her face, far-set eyes, backwards knees, bird feet, and a tail. Oh and theres a stinger on the tail.
And Dren uses it. On a few people. But they don't worry about that. Venomous stinger on a humanoid animal that grew to adulthood in a week? WHERES THE DANGER IN THAT? DURP.
The only other subplot of the film (big bad pharmacy company wants $$$ cliche) rears its french old womanly head and soon Polley and Brody need to take Dren elsewhere or else she might sting the fuck out of people because these two are AWFUL parents. So they take her to a BARN in a SNOWY FREEZING VALLEY. A great place to put an emotionally shattered mutant creature with the body of an adult and the mind of a child. A nice dark FARMHOUSE with subzero temperatures. Brilliant! Oh and hey, abandon it all day INSIDE the farm too while you're at it.
This part of the movie almost becomes, dare I say, cute for a bit. We get to know Dren who is basically a very frightened child of a character that just wants a friend. She finds it, in a BIG FAT CAT that gets inside the barn somehow. Sarah Polley comes in and decides to take the cat away. For NO REASON. The cat is just a macguffin for the soul purpose of harvesting some poorly written anger issues between Dren and her "mom".
Eventually Polley and Brody have to show off what amazing work they've done creating potato monsters and go to a oddly small summit. Small, for showcasing CANCER CURING MUTANT MONSTERS. There's like 20 people there, maybe.
What occurs is one of the only scary bits of the film. The two potato creatures, which french kissed near the start of the film, now HATE each other. Because one traded in it's taco for a sausage. So the two potato monsters whip out their switchblade stingers and proceed to beat each other up like flipperless elephant seals. And they literally tear each other to pieces (somehow). Their tank falls over and explodes open and their entrails fly all over the audience. And we all share a hearty laugh.
Anyway. Adrian Brody gets bored one day and decides to teach Dren how to dance. It's a cute scene, until he realizes Dren seems to be enjoying herself just a bit too much. He also realizes that Dren has Polley's DNA in her (what a tweest). Polley later decides that is now OK for Dren to have a cat. Manages to recapture a wild cat she previously let go, and gives it to Dren in a box. Dren is clearly pissed off and uses her giant scorpion tail to not just sting the cat, but to CRUSH ITS HEAD INTO THE FLOOR. She then angrily knocks Polley over, takes her keys and tries to escape. Being a loving mother, Polley beats Dren in the head with a shovel. Ah I miss when my own mum would brain me with shovels. Sittin around the christmas goose, listening to the clangs of metal against my skull. But I digress...
Polley, realizing she can't control Dren, turns into a sadistic nutjob, and straps Dren to a table. Then, with no antiseptic or anesthetic, proceeds to VIOLENTLY remove Dren's stinger. WOW! FINALLY! BRILLIANT! Brody comes home to find Dren bloodied up and strapped to a table. He then frees her.
Then he watches her on one of the security cameras as she swims around a weird barrel bathtub thing they put in the barn. Brody decides he wants a piece of that mutant action and goes inside the barn. But Dren beats him to the punch and gives him a big ol smooch in the nude.
They proceed to bring in the funk right there in the farmer's hay.
No I'm not kidding.
For no reason, this film is now about Adrian Brody and a disturbing mutant woman with bird legs and the brain of a child having bizarre passionate sex on top of a hay-bale in a barn during a snowstorm. Yes folks. You can throw any interesting science fiction ideas out the window at this point. We've now reached the lamest cliche territory there is. The "its a mistake of science. lets have sex" shores of a beach I like to call NONONO. In fantastic story-telling fashion, Sarah Polley arrives at the barn just as Dren climaxes, revealing not only that her stinger has grown back (in a rather lame excuse to explain why they didnt remove it earlier)but also reveals giant fish fins that are on her back and arms. FISH FINS which she uses to FLY.
TO FLY. Or at least, I assume they are fins from a fish. This movie makes no effort to be about splicing or explain what spliced animals gave Dren and her potato brethren their various sick abnormal abilities.
Polley and Brody go back to their apartment where it finally dawns on them that they aren't very smart for scientists. And in scifi, when are scientists EVER smart? So they decide that the time has come to kill Dren because the poor creature thirsts for Brody so hard. So they arrive at the farm to find Dren dead. How? Not sure. It's apparent she ages quickly but she still looked like she was in her 20's. But hey, you've already abandoned logic at this point of the film right? Well they bury Dren. In the same cold soil around the farm they kept her locked in. Then their boss from the lab shows up. And he's mad as hell. He's so mad he might be the only sensical character in the movie. That's how mad he is. GRRRRRRR.
He arrives with Brody's brother whom, despite knowing about Dren and being attacked by her, didn't care enough to let anybody know up until this point of the film. Thank you writers!
Brody and Polley explain Dren is dead just as the camera swoops over her crappy grave (they dispose of their mutant daughter the way most people dispose of a dead parakeet. dig a hole. dump it in. fuggeddaboutit.)
Dren FLIES THROUGH THE AIR ON FISH FINS, grabs their boss, hauls him into the air, and I can only assume stings him to death. Then leaves his body hanging in a tree like a pinata. Dren then grabs Brody's brother and finishes him off in similar fashion.
Dren lands on a barn and we finally get a close up of her. Except now she isn't a her. Dren is now a man. A man with eyes way too close to the bridge of his nose. He makes a VERY CREEPY growling grumpling noise and chases Brody and Polley around the forest.
Brody drops his flashlight into a lake. Polley pulls him out. The immense effort of being hauled out of a shallow pond causes him to go unconscious. Polley runs through the forest being chased by Dren.
Dren flies down to reveal his now manly vaguely asian new form. Dren then proceeds to use his tail and backwards bird feet to tear off Polley's clothes and rapes her.
Yes that's right folks. No I am not making up any of this.
You heard me right. This movie is now about a mutant genderbender raping actress Sarah Polley. People were PAID TO WRITE THIS MOVIE GUYS. PEOPLE WERE PAID TO BRAINSTORM THIS IDEA. WRAP YOUR HEADS AROUND THIS. There is a smug person with thick glasses and a fat paycheck in a plaid shirt in a Starbucks somewhere who thought "man what would be a good climax to this film? oh i know! INCESTUOUS RAPE! I'm brilliant! and now to write 'the chronicles of narnia: the lion the witch and the rapedrobe'"
When my laughter stopped and I managed to pull my hands off my face, Adrian Brody had woken up and just in the nick of time found a giant spike of wood and proceeds to run Dren through with it. Dren, not giving a crap, yoinks out the wood, stabs Brody to death with his/her/it's stinger, then flops over dead. Brody then also flops over dead. Sarah Polley weeps in the middle of this bloody scene.
The final scene is about Sarah Polley being pregnant with the mutant monster and alien brody's sick science babies. And deciding to go ahead with the pregnancy for the sheer purpose of making money from the french pharmaceutical company.
She stands at the window looking out sadly. The CEO of the medicine people then gives her a bit-too-friendly rub on the back and the movie ends.
That is it.
For those who can't be bothered to read all that, here is a list of events as they unfold in real time:
* scientist couple create blob monsters
* couple clone blobs with bits of human DNA
* blob turns into a mutant human adult in a week
* scientist A treats blob mutant woman with love. then with abuse.
* scientist B has sex with blob mutant woman
* blob mutant dies.
* blob comes back as zombie
* rape rape rape rape rape
That's the movie. If it sounds like something you will enjoy ALOT then you have a higher tolerance for dumb than I. Enjoy it. It's yours my friend.
If however this does not sound like your genetically engineered cup of tea, then I have saved you roughly 10 dollars.
The film leaves itself wide open for a sequel. And sadly, may just get one. Here are things I hope the sequel does better:
* splicing. vaguely mentioning that you made shapeless mutants with very human looking flesh from random animals is such a silly way to get out of explaining science. how about showing the process, which is probably very interesting and creepy as hell. heck, a whole movie about just that, would probably be incredible. You could call it Splice!
* character development. the best parts of this movie were seeing Dren mutate into an adult and her interactions (not the violent or sex ones) with other people. we never got to understand how she grew arms, or a human body (or a not-insectlike face). one moment she's a bipedal dog thing that loves candy, the next she's a human child with a big bald head and chicken legs and a love for gawky crow-like men.
* hey you know what would have been more interesting than all the characters randomly having sex at the end? ANYTHING ELSE. Here's a better idea: Dren gets loose and we get to see her interact with other human beings who aren't her incredibly shitty parents! maybe learning NOT to sting everything in sight! why, you could do a Forrest Mutant Gump kind of thing with that. but instead we got another SPECIES movie type of bullshit. THIS IS ONLY ACCEPTABLE WHEN CAPTAIN KIRK DOES IT, AND WHEN ITS CONSENSUAL. ADRIAN BRODY AND SARAH POLLEY ARE NOT KIRK. AND GOD WILLING, THEY NEVER WILL BE.
* have people make smart decisions. a normal person with even above-average intelligence would have figured out a way to NOT HAVE STINGERS ON THEIR MUTANT very early on into whatever this scientific process was. it's like when you see a ghost movie and an idiot goes upstairs when you KNOW the ghost is up there and its going to kill him. normal people would not go up those stairs. normal people would also not leave a dangerous biological murder implement on an animal that they have full biological control over. For examples of people making smart decisions in a horror film please see 28 Days Later for reference. To a lesser extent, Signs.
* a full grown human being would never be able to fly or glide with tiny foot-wide flaps of transparent fish skin dangling off their forearms. this is why animals have HUGE wings compared to their bodies. even flying squirrels know this, and they're vermin.
Thats my review of Splice. A movie with a good idea ruined by cliche execution and some dumb ideas that drag the whole thing way down.
I give it a C-
Hey the new Gorillaz music video leaked onto youtube tonight. It's full of amazing visuals including some of the coolest submarine designs I ever did see. Seek it out. I'm sure it will be officially uploaded in the VERY near future.
Anyway. I have work to do.
C'est la vie.
Oh and I'll post this comic I did days ago as well. Only a scant few will get this joke: