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Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Science Fiction · Splice
Science Fiction


Doug Bentin June 10th, 2010

You may choose not to see "Splice," but don't make that decision based on the belief that it's just another horror movie with more ick than ideas. This picture is packed with thematic material and thought-provoking visuals, from the opening credits to the last shot.

Now, that's not to say the film is all somber contemplation of the themes on which it touches. Yes, the two lead scientists in the story violate ethics and the law, and end up creating a monster daughter, but the company they work for is Nucleic Exchange Research Development. Look again at those initials: N.E.R.D.

Clive (Adrien Brody, "Fantastic Mr. Fox") and Elsa (Sarah Polley, TV's "John Adams") — as in Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester, the two stars of "The Bride of Frankenstein" who weren't Boris Karloff — splice together DNA of different animal species in an attempt to develop a super-protein that will cure everything from diabetes to diaper rash. We don't see them mixing in snake oil, but that doesn't mean they haven't tried it. Company CEO Joan Chorot (French actress Simona Maicanescu) pays lip service to humanitarianism, blah blah blah, but her real concern is profits, and she puts pressure on her staff to deliver.

Just to see what will happen, Elsa adds some human female DNA to the formula, and the resultant creature looks like something from a Guillermo del Toro movie. Which shouldn't surprise us, as del Toro is one of this film's executive producers.

But as it ages, which it does at an accelerated rate, the thing begins to look more and more like a young woman from the waist up (Delphine Chanéac, "The Pink Panther"). Elsa names her Dren — spell it backward — and soon, that whole Electra complex thing starts up and worsens when Clive becomes attracted to his test-tube daughter. As part of the civilizing process, Elsa gives Dren her old Barbie and soon, the part-human begins comparing her appearance to that of the perfect doll, just like every other young woman in America.

Clive and Elsa really lose control when something unexpected occurs with an earlier experiment and we start wondering if the same thing could happen to Dren.

The film is essentially a three-way character study, but strong, convincing support is supplied by Brandon McGibbon ("Saw V") as Clive's brother, and David Hewlett (TV's "Stargate: Atlantis") as the lab manager.

Technically, the film goes well beyond its B-monster-movie roots. The production design by Todd Cherniawsky (the "Ginger Snaps" trilogy) gives us a lab and an apartment that look they're inhabited not by generic scientists, but by these two in particular. Cyrille Aufort's modernist score is reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann's work on "Psycho," while the script by director Vincenzo Natali ("Cube"), Antoinette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor demands post-viewing contemplation. 

Finally, there seems to be disagreement as to whether the film is a pure horror picture or a black-comedy variation on mad-scientist themes. The main characters' names do reference "The Bride of Frankenstein." Go back and watch that classic again, then make up your own mind. —Doug Bentin

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