Friday, June 11, 2010

Splice: Expectation and Apprehension

Splice opened in theatres last Friday and I'm going to see it later today. I first heard about the movie back in January when the / guys were covering the Sundance film festival. I was immediately intrigued since the movie got great reviews and was essentially billed as a contemporary re-envisioning of Frankenstein, one of my favourite novels. Since then I've been patiently waiting for Splice's release, but in the last few months the marketing push for the film has started to worry me:

The trailer above shows that Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley use human DNA to create a new life form that eventually gets out of control. All that is fine and dandy and sounds like it could make for a solid horror film, but I'm concerned about the angle the film seems to be taking on this type of experiment. The trailer openly discusses contemporary legislation and debate about the use of human DNA, and shows that the scientific protagonists are blazing a trail regardless of whether or not the powers that be allow it. Despite that setup Brody's character appears to be a mouthpiece for the conservative right who tries to kill the new creature and melodramatically calls it "a mistake." When things take a turn for the horrible the trailer seems to vindicate this perspective and broadcast the "moral" to the audience that "science is bad!"

I've mentioned recently that I'm getting really sick of primitivism and conservatism in my mainstream movies. Yes they're popcorn flicks but dammit I want to empathize with the characters and feel that my upper-middle class perspective is represented! I want my popular entertainment to promote a culture of liberalism and open-mindedness, not regressive conservative doctrine. Admittedly a contemporary Frankenstein isn't exactly the best site for progressive politics (modern Prometheus much?), but it's possible for movies to show experiments going horrifically awry without implying that it's intrinsically wrong to explore new scientific territory.

I don't know that Splice berates the use of cloning technologies or experimentation with human DNA, but judging by the trailers it certainly looks that way. I'm still going to see the film because it looks like an interesting cross between Alien and Species, but I'm going in with my guard up. I'll do a follow-up post saying whether or not Splice is more intelligent than it looks, but right now I'm not hopeful. Fingers crossed that I'm wrong.

1 comment:

  1. I saw it and I really liked it. At first glance the movie does seem to have seriously conservative overtones but the message is so blatant and over the top that I started to feel like it's not serious. What I saw in this film is a caricature of conservative views and fun sci-fi what-the-fuckery.


    The plot is basically that two geneticists think they're gods and have no problem with creating/destroying life then their work results in bestiality, incest, transsexuality and rape (all at once). Also there's surprise lesbianism at the end. Really? REALLY? THE ONLY OUTCOME OF SCIENCE IS SIN. I feel like if you approach this movie seriously, you'll be appalled. If you come ready to roflomgwtf, you will enjoy it endlessly.

    It somehow manages to be more intelligent than I expected from the trailers but also a big joke. I don't think we're expected to take the science is evil message seriously. If we were, it wouldn't be so comically ridiculous. I've actually seen it twice and both times there has been much laughing and "bawww oh no" in the audience but everyone has clearly enjoyed it at the end.

    I give it my approval. I'm recommending it to friends and I look forward to vincenzo natali's next film.