Splice is better than it looks.

I saw Splice last night, and I’m glad I did. It’s not as shattering as District 9 (last summer’s surprise SF hit), but it is genuinely horrific without being visually explicit. It makes a lot of reference to the Frankenstein story, but it’s actually positioned somewhere on the Ira Levin/David Cronenberg side of the horror continuum. The most terrifying things happen offscreen, and but the violence you do see is both quick and intimate, and the creature effects are juicy. Despite some glossed-over science, it’s still a lot smarter than most of the dreck that bobs up in theatres and, as Peter remarked when we left the show, “At least it portrayed scientists as capable of meaningful relationships.”

The trailer would have you believe that Splice is a straight-up monster movie, an updated Universal feature from the days of Karloff and Chaney. It’s not. It’s one of those rare movies that centres on an intelligent but deeply troubled woman, and the consequences her obsession and lack of moral compass. We see stories like this all the time involving men, so it’s nice to see this one told about a woman. Women form the core of the story; in a reversal of traditional horror film conventions, the men are just there to get fucked and splattered when the plot calls for it. That doesn’t mean that the women do everything right all the time and the men don’t (far from it), but truly multi-dimensional characters have flaws and make mistakes. Main characters don’t have to be heroes. They just have to hold your attention.

In short, go see it, even if you’ve been waffling. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. I was.

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