Splice – Blu-Ray Review

Splice had a difficult time finding an audience during its theatrical run earlier this year. Maybe it was due to the surface similarities to Species, a sci-fi movie about a female alien who seduced men. In this age of remakes and unnecessary sequels, it’s easy to see why there would be such negative buzz around a movie that hasn’t even been released. That’s what the Internet is for, after all. However, if you give Splice a chance, you’ll find that it’s much more than it appears on the surface.

Nerd power couple Clive and Elsa (Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley) are two genetic scientists who work for NERD (Nucleic Exchange, Research & Development). Their genetic splicing of animal DNA to create hybrid animals has generated much praise for the couple and for NERD. A pharmaceutical company is interested in the process, since this genetic splicing could open up the doors to breakthroughs in medicine. Excited by their success and the possibility of breakthrough, Clive and Elsa secretly splice a human with an animal.

Even though their “offspring” proves dangerous at a young age, Elsa sees herself as a mother figure and wants to protect their creation, which they lovingly name Dren (NERD backwards). Dren grows at an alarming rate and is in danger of being discovered by the other scientists, so Elsa and Clive move her to an abandoned farm once owned by Elsa’s late mother.

It is at the farmhouse where Dren really begins to blossom into a beautiful creature, one that becomes more and more difficult for Elsa and Clive to “parent.” She grows a venomous tail, wings, and ultimately changes sex. Dren pits parent against parent when she lashes out, something that every child does. The results of this situation just happen to be much more extreme than what we experience in our own homes.

A good sci-fi movie will be a social commentary of some sort. On the surface, Splice is about the morality of scientific experiments. With the technology that we have now, and the new technology that we discover every day, should we really be pushing boundaries as much as we are? When creating new hybrid animals and humans, Elsa and Clive are essentially playing God. Which sounds great in theory: if we can do it, why not? But their creation goes wildly out of their control, and they’re reminded that they’re only human.

But Splice doesn’t just touch on morality. It is also a commentary on current parenting and the family structure. At the screening I attended, Vincenzo Natali was present for a very informative Q&A after the film. He said that he views Splice as more of a family movie than a horror film. Not in the sense that you can take your whole family to see it, but that it really showcases a family dynamic.

Clive and Elsa became parents to Dren before they even realized how much responsibility that entails. The same is true about so many other parents, if not all of them. You dream about having your own child, someone who admires you, but when it happens, it’s a whole lot more work than you ever imagined. As Dren rapidly matures onscreen, Clive and Elsa have to deal with her growing up, rebelling against them, not listening. Also, Elsa has issues with her own mother. Issues that are not clearly defined in the storyline, but we’re very aware of them. Everyone has issues with their families in one way or another, and everyone tries not to project whatever emotions they have about those issues onto their children. But it happens without even knowing it.

Splice is so far removed from Species that after watching it, it’s difficult to even come up with any valid comparisons. Vincenzo Natali is a masterful storyteller, as seen also in his cult hit Cube. With many years between projects, he puts an incredible amount of time and energy into his stories to make sure they are told expertly. Hopefully after a disappointing run at the box office, Splice will finally find its audience on DVD and Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray transfer is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with incredible HD sound. The film is beautifully shot and Blu-ray is the best way to experience it.

A Director’s Playground: Vincenzo Natali on the set of Splice – This featurette begins with a short history of Natali’s career, showing footage from Cube and Nothing. Then it goes into a detailed making of featurette, full of insights behind the story and fun moments from the set. (35:21)

BD Live – As with all blu-rays with BD Live, this has a ton of goodies to get sucked into. Highlights include trailers for Sucker Punch, Yogi Bear, Due Date, and stuff about The Goonies 25th Anniversary, and the Harry Potter Ultimate Editions.

TrailersJonah Hex, Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Lost Boys: The Thirst, and a really cool commercial for AFI.com set to the score from True Romance.

Splice is one of those movies that won’t appeal to everyone due to the graphic sexual and violent content, but is very much worth seeing if you feel you can handle it. This film will most likely earn cult status in a few years. Even though it tackles some very serious issues, it’s got heart and humor right alongside some gruesome material. It’s even better upon repeat viewings; I found myself liking it even more the second time around. Even in a year with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Inception, Splice is one of the best, most original films of 2010.

Warner Home Video presents Splice. Directed by: Vincenzo Natali. Starring: Adrian Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac. Written by: Vincenzo Natali. Running time: 104 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD and Blu-ray: October 5, 2010.

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