Creating hybrid life forms is never wise, it but makes for good thrillers

click to enlarge 22_splice.jpg

"I just wish things could go back to the way they were." Man, how many times when you're done creating a new life form -- part human, part something else, and now on the attack -- have you said that? It takes a while in Vincenzo Natali's moody thriller for the pair of biochemists-slash-lovers to regret succumbing to that tantalizing but dangerous impulse known as "playing God." By that point, Splice wraps up as expected, but the journey of its hipster-nerd protagonists Clive (Adrian Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) is somewhat more arthouse than grindhouse. Outright action is minimal; instead, Natali builds a brooding morality tale -- intercut with dark humor, unnatural urges and very realistic-looking surgical procedures. (I was reminded of David Cronenberg's films that also mash up sex, freaky medical stuff and unchecked human impulses.) This film is smarter -- and slower -- than the flashy trailer would have you believe, but it's an enjoyable 90 minutes of unease, even if its plot twists take a familiar path. Starts Fri., June 4.


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