Friday, October 8, 2010

SPLICE (2009) - a DNA-sploitation melodrama that warns us against exploiting DNA

here is the trailer, which plays up the jump scares in an effort to distract people from realizing that they really shouldn't bother seeing this piece of shit

The science of genetic engineering is currently embattled in a heated debate. On one side are the scientists, who want to use genetic research to cure diseases, improve the standard of living, and maybe one day even unlock the mystery of aging, allowing us to live forever. On the other side of the debate are dumb people, who stomp their feet and yell out “YOU CAN’T PLAY GOD!”. Really? Why not? People kill others every day, and some of this is sanctioned by these very buffoons. Isn’t that “playing god”? Also, this sentiment is followed by exactly zero explanation. It’s just some arbitrary rule from above that we’re all supposed to follow, I guess. Well, how do these people know that this mysterious deity, one who has never bothered to show his face, doesn’t want humans to “play god”? I guess it’s hidden somewhere in the bible. Whatevs.

Here is the cinematic equivalent to this guy stomping his feet. You know, it’s hard to have a productive conversation with someone who repeatedly tries to slam you over the head with their point, an unexamined statement that, for them, equals victory when spoken. It’s like a debate is supposed to be as simple as throwing a ball through a hoop. It’s about winning, and not about truth. Maybe you should just try to honestly weigh the facts and not obsesses about being right all the time. Just a thought. So, my overall point is that Splice has a dumb message that is total bullshit, and it delivers it hamfistedly. Boy it took a while to get to that.

So, Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley (the modern day canuck indie goddess of sorts) are genetic splicers who have received funding to create a new species by throwing a bunch of genes together haphazardly. The thing looks like a blobby worm, and it’s supposed to be able to create some magical enzyme that can cure cancer or some other bullshit. This would seem to be rewarding work, with a valid purpose behind it, but they decide to do some freelance splicing on the side to entertain themselves. They mix Sarah’s DNA with some random animal genes, because, well…it’s science-y fun! They try to explain the splicing in hack screenwriter tech speak, and let the process unfold in a fun science montage. "What do these numbers on the screen mean? Which button should I push on the keyboard? Boy, am I getting tired…this science stuff sure is taxing business! Still...being super smart sure is fun!".

Of course, they end up creating a monster of sorts, all because they thought it would be cool to throw some shit together in the lab. I remember doing the same thing during junior high school chemistry class, but, in that case, I was hoping for a disaster of sorts to combat boredom. Both Adrien and Sarah are presented as brilliant scientists, but are completely clueless about the purpose, attributes, and ramifications of the creature they hath wrought. There’s no studied account of it’s abilities or growth patterns, or the fact that the whole thing defies known biological processes. They just repeat facsimiles of “that monster is pretty cool!”, or “what the balls is going on here?!?”. At one point, Adrien lies in bed and ponders if this humanoid has feelings like regular people. A fucking five-year-old would have immediately deduced that to be the case.

This is what happens when a dumb screenwriter(s) attempts to write a script with “ideas” and “science”. Because they approach the material from their own dimwitted perspective, yet think they are being super smart about cutting edge science-y issues, the characters can only think up to the writer’s level. Also, the writer will try to convince the audience that the characters are brilliant through expository dialogue, rather than through their actions and statements. You know, Adrien Brody walks into a room, and some guy says to another “I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but that guy over there, he’s the very best in his field! Dare I say brilliant even!”. If Adrien’s character is so smart, why does he dress as a 40-year-old emo boy? I rest my case. So, the backbone of the movie is soaked in the very essence of dumbness. Namely, what really makes someone stupid is their steadfast belief that they’re the smartest guy in the room.

The female monster (Dren) is not really a conduit for ideas, but rather, an initiator of drama (and also provides a few tepid scares for the teen crowd, so they can jump out of their seat and quickly text “OMG LOLZ” to their friend sitting right next to them). This incognito monster experiment threatens to shut down their real research project, so they have to hide her in a barn/guest house. Sarah grows to love Dren like a daughter, completely oblivious to the potential dangers (and scientific implications), and making Adrien nervous along the way. Within a few days, she grows into a young adult, sort of a sexy version of Nell crossed with a gargoyle. This rapid growth is pretty much the case with every mutant baby in the movies, test tube or otherwise. This enables the screenwriter to not have to account for this long period of growth, and to be able to keep the drama quickly churning post birth. Of course, once she reaches her full sexiness, she stops aging at this super fast rate. Sarah even makes her up all pretty like, I guess because Dren’s true purpose is not as a bridge to knowledge, or as the mother of a new species, but as a hot chick with some exotic touches (like a tail, for example).

This sexification of Dren backfires spectacularly when Adrien fucks her. Oops, I gave it away. As he is a brilliant scientist with the brain of a dumb 12-year-old, he can’t control keeping his emo paws off of his own defacto monster daughter (and she is technically only a couple weeks old to boot). While Sarah is off doing something, Adrien realizes that all he needs is a solid 30 seconds with Dren to satisfy his urges. Eight seconds in she has an orgasm, and twelve seconds in, Sarah bursts into the guest house. How...awkward. I think it’s time to go on Jerry Springer.

During the ending, Dren turns into a male and chases Sarah, trying to rape his own mother. I guess the lesson here is that men can’t control themselves in any and all situations. Even if a female Godzilla is destroying the city, men will look at her Godzilla vagina and think "I should try to fuck that!". Jerks.

So, maybe there are several life lessons here. The big one is that if you mess with DNA, something friggin’ bad will happen! Specifically, if you try to create an animal in a lab, it will become a friggin’ monster! You’d think the fifty previous Frankenstein movies would’ve been a sufficient hint. Also, If you just have to create a living being in a lab, think it through a little first! I know you want that Nobel Prize or science fair ribbon or whatever, but creating life should not be done impulsively. After all, monsters are pretty high maintenance. In fact, it's probably a bad idea in general to create something in a lab without thinking it through first. Try writing shit out on paper at least.

Even if this "experiment" does manage to work out, how are you gonna present it to the Nobel Prize committee? “Hey, I threw some human DNA and a bunch of genetic whatever into a blender and created a monster with puzzling attributes! Check this shit out!”. The committee would probably respond with “ have created a new species. Impressive. Now, granted, she’s kinda sexy, but no one would be stupid enough to try and have sex with her. Also, it flies around and stings people to death. So, in closing…you get bupkis. Next time, maybe you should create something cute and harmless, like maybe a half panda bear, half kitty cat. Now that would be adorable!”.


  1. I need to have a Kids in the Hall marathon pronto!

  2. @Morgan
    I once had a KITH marathon while dressed as a Toronto housewife. That's the way to do it. Of course I'm kidding...I can't pull off a Canadian accent. I say "aboot" and people think I'm talking about Doc Martins.