Splice: Spoiler Thread



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OK so definitely the most psychologically interesting horror movie I’ve seen since Paranormal Activity, and the best body horror movie since The Fly.

It is after midnight and I should be asleep, but I am HYPED about this flick. Pardon my freely-associative ramble:

  • Polley was pure gold in this. Almost the most sickening scene in the movie (which contained many genuinely emotionally disturbing moments) was the cat/maiming scene. I’m a new parent and the tragedy of Elsa’s love/hate relationship with Dren – rooted in Elsa’s own dysfunctional childhood – was heartwrenching. There is always tension in the parent/child relationship and crossing that with the horrible dichotomy of “is she an experiment or not?” just piled on the anguish in an extremely compelling way. The most disturbing horror movies are the ones rooted in the human condition, and this one definitely was.

  • The mistake in conceiving Dren was exactly that unresolved issue: is she a person or a monster? It’s the Frankenstein myth given one of its most carefully conceived expressions, walking the line between attraction and repulsion very consciously and intimately. In fact that went for all of the protagonists; they were all sympathetic and monstrous simultaneously, almost especially the two “parents”, given how incredibly egotistical they had to be to create Dren at all.

  • I can’t recall a creature movie that made the creature so sympathetic. I found myself driving home thanking my lucky stars that when I cuddled my kids tomorrow they weren’t going to sprout stingers.

  • The sex scene was definitely the climax (heh) of the movie – people all around the theater were freaking out when Dren jumped his bones. That scene, as well as the Barbie/tiara/mirror scene, really sold me on Dren’s hunger to know who and what she was.

  • I liked the concept of the injection of male DNA (semen) causing a gender shift. I thought Dren was going to get knocked up but it made more sense this way, and the rape scene had its own horror, even beyond the (somewhat cliched but I can live with it) Fly-like pregnancy ending. There won’t be a sequel to Splice, I don’t think, but if they do make one and if Polley and Natali are involved I’ll be there opening night (again).

  • I wished for more background on Brody’s character (I can’t remember his name, for example), but it was really mostly Elsa and Dren’s show.

Overall I was just really impressed with the acting – all three of the protagonists brought their A games and it truly showed. I was slightly let down by the spooky-monster-chase ending, but the movie needed some kind of catharsis and it was a good way to kill Dren the creature without having to kill the sympathetic female Dren we’d spent the movie hating/loving.

Anyway, feel free to be all “you’re full of shit, the movie was tripe” if you must, but I hope at least a few others related to what the filmmakers and actors were trying to put up there, because there was a lot going on and the movie definitely got under my skin. Two big fat fucking thumbs up from me.

Edit: Oh yeah! My horror-buff friend whom I saw it with pointed out it was Oedipus and Elektra all in one. Damn straight; this movie knows its roots. And why do the cats always get the short end of the stick in these flicks? Poor fucking kitties can never catch a break…

Just got back from seeing it. We both really liked it a lot. Repo went through the basics at length I see, so I’ll just echo most of his sentiments and say that the movie is very well crafted, written, paced, shot, edited, and acted. I’ll call out one bit of dialog that I loved, though: the executive saying “no more monsters” after the fight between Fred and Ginger, unaware of the actual monster that they have at home.

So that’s out of the way. Here’s something I said in the other thread:

What I meant, without necessarily knowing it, was that I wanted this movie to be about boundaries and what happens to people when they break them. It’s a natural theme for this premise to explore, because making a creature like this is breaking a pretty huge boundary in and of itself. Well, that’s exactly what this film is about: the scientists break through this huge boundary and find themselves in shocking territory, pushing through more boundaries as the morality of the situation grows less and less clear. I loved that.

I also loved the characters, which easily drove this movie. Aspiring (and bad) filmmakers take note: this is how you create rich, detailed characters without a bunch of exposition. It’s great that Elsa ends up being so screwed up psychologically without it interfering into her day-to-day life, which actually feels very real, and it’s also great that this leads her to learn exactly the wrong lesson from this experience, deciding to bring her pregnancy to term. And I loved how despite having hardly any explicit character development, we actually know Clive very well, as the overgrown adolescent who’s very gifted in his field but just sort of coasts, unable to handle any real responsibilities, even the ones he thinks he wants to take on.

I don’t think that’s what happened. I think the change happened because it was just time, like it did with Ginger. The timeline isn’t quite clear, but it seems like a little bit of time passes between the sex scene and them thinking Dren was dead.

I do have two small complaints about the film, at any rate. The first is that the ending sequence with male Dren wasn’t as good as it could have been. It was a little too suddenly violent, and while I understand that it was Dren acting like a wild animal threatened by the presence of other males, I wish that had been better established by continuing to treat Dren with nuance rather than framing him as a monster. And I wished he hadn’t spoken.

My second complaint is that I had a set of talkers behind me, which obviously isn’t the fault of anyone involved in making the film. It was literally a constant stream of “oh, wow” and “idiots” and “kill her too” and “stab him more,” but there was one line that actually made it all worth it. It was toward the end, when male Dren rises up from the lake. It cuts to the scientists cowering in fear, then it cuts back to Dren, hulking and looking scary. The lady behind me said: “Is that his brother?”

Also, why do you consider this a horror movie? It was definitely marketed as one, but I don’t see anything in the actual movie itself that warrants pegging it that way.

I consider it a horror movie because my wife would :-) The monster-chase at the end was pure horror, and the Fred vs. Ginger scene was splatter, and the overall sense of disturbing unease was (low-key) psychological terror, so I consider the label reasonably apt.

I also thought that male-Dren speaking at the end was weak, until I remembered earlier in the movie. Just before giving Dren the kitty back (I think), Elsa looked her intensely in the eye and said, “I love you. You’re a part of me. I’m inside you.” (Emphasis more or less in the original.)

Having those be the only words Dren spoke – with the terrible meaning male-Dren was giving them – made a lot more sense, and was a lot more chilling, when I remembered that, and realized that Dren was also remembering that. He was echoing Elsa’s own words back to her. Especially given that he was right – he was about to impregnate her, and biologically re-enter her (not just with intercourse).

It was another example of how terribly, terribly confused all the boundaries had become in their lives.

Yeah, I made that connection too, I just… for me, it would have been even more disturbing if he’d remained silent, though it does play into the Elektra thing a bit more if he says that line. Either way, a very minor quibble.

I’m also thinking back now to the scene in the apartment after the sex scene, and how Elsa first acts pretty much just like a wife that’s been cheated on (which is far less than the appropriate reaction), and Clive actually brings her around to the viewpoint that it’s not out of line with the rest of their lives at that point. That’s awesome stuff. When a dude gets caught banging the half-human creature who’s essentially his surrogate daughter and can credibly defend himself with “who the hell knows what the rules are at this point,” you know it’s a pretty nuts situation.

Yeah, I loved that scene too – it really showed how the characters’ intellectual intelligence vastly surpassed their emotional intelligence, to the point where their emotions were capable of wild swings (viz. Elsa’s nurturer-to-torturer shift) in just mere moments. I actually didn’t think Clive so much brought her around to a different viewpoint as he just shifted her attention from her jealousy to her wounded-motherhood ("I maimed her!"), which was a much bigger issue for Elsa than sex ever was.

As a testament to how good those two actors are, that scene was shot four days into production, before any of the stuff leading up to it had been shot. Brody and Polley did exceptional jobs, I think.

Good God, really? Crazy. What other tidbits did you glean from Natali? And where was that screening, anyway? You lucky $&#%& ;-)

The audience I saw it with absolutely hated it. There was lots of laughing throughout the movie, and when the sex scene started, at least 20 people walked out.

I thought it was … interesting, I guess? I was very surprised at what it was actually about and especially at how far it goes. I didn’t know who the director is, and the only thing of his I’m familiar with is Cube (which was an interesting exercise in film-making but a pretty bad movie). The Performances were good, and the near-Cronenbergian boundary pushing was a welcome surprise. Overall, I thought it was merely okay.

Once thing I wasn’t completely clear on – how much do we actually know about Polley’s character’s childhood? We see her room, and we know that she’s worried about “losing control”, but those were the extent of the details I gleaned. Also, I’m not really sure what it was about this movie that attracted actors of Brody and Polley’s caliber. Since he’s in the new Predator movie, I guess he’s trying to mainstream his career a little bit, but this didn’t seem like something the two of them would do. Good for the director, I guess, but it still surprised me.

The screening was at The Egyptian in Hollywood, but he’s done several of them throughout the country, judging by Twitter.

Other fun tidbits from the Q&A:

  • The first draft of the script was finished on February 14th, 1998.

  • It almost got made in 2000, but he’s glad it didn’t because he doesn’t think he could have pulled Dren off effectively ten years ago.

  • Principle photography was actually done near the end of 2007. The movie was done in early 2009 and he took it to Sundance looking for a distributor. Joel Silver saw it and decided to buy it, the first time he has purchased a completed film from anyone. In fact, Warner Bros. doesn’t even have an acquisitions department, but made a special exception because Silver wanted Splice so much.

  • Warner Bros. made no demands of Natali for changes or content adjustment. He had essentially full control over the final product.

  • Adult Dren is CG from the hips down and above the mouth, everything else is real. The character was almost entirely created in terms of performance by the actress playing her.

  • Dren was intentionally kept somewhat androgynous until the makeup scene makes her undeniably female. The visual concept in mind while designing her was “angelic,” to contrast with the demonic male form at the end.

Edit: Somehow having seen Splice makes watching this even more awesome.

What I meant, without necessarily knowing it, was that I wanted this movie to be about boundaries and what happens to people when they break them. It’s a natural theme for this premise to explore, because making a creature like this is breaking a pretty huge boundary in and of itself. Well, that’s exactly what this film is about: the scientists break through this huge boundary and find themselves in shocking territory, pushing through more boundaries as the morality of the situation grows less and less clear. I loved that.

I will just add to this and say that one of the things I love is that this movie is very much about what extarbags is saying above but one of the other major themes is families. And what’s great is that these two themes are very much intertwined.

It’s a love triangle with Dren and it’s about what having a baby can do to a couple’s relationship but because she’s this in-between thing, all the boundaries are just messed up and all hell breaks loose.

I saw the del Toro fingerprints on the creature design. The angel inspiration makes sense. She is so beautiful up there on the roof.

One of my favorite parts was when Polly returned the cat to Dren, after first taking it away, and Dren was like “I don’t need your pity. Fuck you and here’s what I think of your cat.” Could have used more Dren, and less of that ending. It was bit abrupt the way Dren was out of the picture. They had such a great character and she was gone too soon. I would have liked to have seen Dren and Brody get married and raise those mutant kids.

The Cronenberg influence was especially blatant with the science show for the shareholders. I giggled with glee during the whole scene, and was hoping those meat bags would have gored the shareholders.

Yeah, the families dynamic was fascinating, and brought home the responsibility of creating new life forms – especially BRAND new ones like Dren – and how unprepared Clive and Elsa were for it. The cat-killing scene was especially heartwrenching because I don’t think Elsa was pitying Dren so much as feeling true remorse for having taken the cat away, and really wanting to give Dren’s happy pet back. But Dren was definitely all teenager “fuck you” and Elsa was just not ready – even if she’d had a decade of child Dren, she probably would never have been ready to deal with teen individuation issues given how controlling and fucked up her own mom was. Crossed signals like that are inevitable in child-rearing, and they take a lot of empathy to work through. That the actors were able to bring that whole scene off so passionately and with such clarity of feeling… just another amazing scene in a movie full of them.

According to Natali, Dren’s appearance was pretty much in his head already well before del Toro was involved. This was very much Natali’s film. Del Toro clearly does like the design a lot, though, judging by the Dren plushie he had on the red carpet at the premiere.

Hmm… I got something different out of that scene. Elsa was being condescending, which would be fine with a dumb kid. But at that point Dren was actually far more perceptive than Elsa herself was, so she nailed the cat to prove her point. I mean, Elsa was too dumb to see that she was giving a pet to her pet and telling her pet that, while her pet could see right through what she was doing.

Yeah, that’s what I took from it as well.

I believe Elsa called her mom crazy at one point. That plus the room, which really looked not much better than what Dren had(in fact Dren had MORE space, and things dedicated to her rooms), gave me the impression Elsa was her mom’s lab rat. Not in scientific research, but in general crazy ‘raising wolves’ type parenting.

Brody’s done genre before, and so has Polley. This is not really a stretch in that regard.

ShockTillYouDrop.com has interviews with Polley and Brody where they discuss why they did the film. Nutshell: it was a really really compelling and fucked up script, and they both got really into it :-)