Vincenzo Natali’s Splice is out in theaters everywhere today, and I couldn’t be more curious and excited. Why? Excited because I consider the Natali to be a bold talent, who is just at the beginning of an incredibly accomplished directing career; curious, because I want to know to what degree general audiences are willing to open their minds (and their wallets) for such a bizarre film. The movie has already divided critics, with some proclaiming its one of the best films of the summer while others are calling it “repulsive.”
We are going to be covering this movie a bunch more in the weeks ahead (I have an interview AND a Q&A with Natali that I will post on the site soon), but in the meantime, I want to hear what you guys think of this movie. Hit the jump for a few more of my thoughts, and please post your own in the comments. Also, feel free to check out Natali’s entertaining appearance on the /Filmcast from this past week.
When I first saw Splice at Sundance a few months ago, I enjoyed it greatly, but honestly, it never occurred to me that this movie would receive a wide theatrical release. Here’s what I wrote in my original review:
[Y]ou shouldn’t watch Splice for any of its subtle character work. Instead, embrace Natali’s moody atmosphere and his fearlessness in bringing the story to places that are so messed up, the unpleasant images will sear their way into your long-term memory. I should note here that the special effects are spellbinding, recalling the resourcefulness seen in Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. Natali used a nice balance of CGI and practical effects to make the different iterations of the human-hybrid creature a convincing part of the film’s world, and I think he definitely succeeds.
I stand by those words, and I’m heartened that Dark Castle and Warner Brothers have taken a chance on Splice. But will it pay off?
At this point, I’ve seen Splice three times already (Natali admitted to me that with the exception of people close to the film, I’ve probably seen the film more times than most) and by the third time, I was deriving a great deal of my enjoyment from the reactions of the audience. I would describe the final third of the film as “troubling” and “transgressive” to some degree, but the discomfort the audience feels is always palpable. The film tries to straddle the line between outrageousness and camp, and I think it’s a film definitely worth seeing with a crowd, just to see how they react.
Splice is a refreshingly original scifi tale, which nonetheless gracefully pays homage to its myriad creature-film forebearers. It also dares to take viewers to places they would never otherwise go (places they will probably be sorry they ever visited). For these reasons it should be seen and praised.
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