Splice (2010) 
Blu-ray Mystery-Suspense
Written by Noah Fleming   
Friday, 15 October 2010

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“Splice” is labeled as a “thriller, sexy and scary.”  Maybe I have just seen too much to be shocked anymore, but this is not a scary film.  Is it weird?  Yes.  Scary?  No.  However, I can see how average movie watchers could be scared by this film.  While there are not any really disturbing images, there are some fast motion suspense moments that might make audiences jump.

For some reason or another when I was watching this movie I was thinking of “Mimic” mixed with “Species .”  Watch the film and I’m sure you will make the same connection.

As the controversy over stem cell research continues, this film uses that idea in a roundabout way.  Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) are genetic researchers that have been splicing together strands of DNA from different species to create a new life form.  Their ultimate goal is to incorporate human DNA so that they may find cures for cancer and other diseases.  The possibilities are endless.

Unfortunately, their project is not approved for human DNA testing.  Instead they are told to focus on extracting a livestock protein from their new creation to acquire funding.  However, as stubborn as Clive and Elsa are they secretly start human DNA testing.  One thing leads to another and eventually they have created a new species.

Dren is born a creature that resembles a beaver and rodent.  However, with Dren’s accelerated aging it doesn’t take long before she resembles a human being.  Clive and Elsa continually fight about putting an end to Dren’s lifecycle.  Elsa is adamant that Dren be kept alive, while Clive finds it to be unnatural and wants to kill her.  This drives a wedge between them in their marriage.

What is nice about “Splice” is that it doesn’t reveal everything from the outset.  While the film is still somewhat predictable, it is not predictable from the get go.   There are few twists that may throw audiences if they are not really paying attention to all the details.  The end of the film ends the only way it could, leaving a sequel wide open.  I wouldn’t doubt at least a direct-to-video sequel.

“Splice” comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p, VC-1 encode at 1.78:1.  The film’s photography is a perfect example of how cinematographers use the storyline to create the image.  The story is based in science, taking place at a lab and in a farmhouse.  Science is clean and sterile, as is the lab.  The farmhouse is dark and dreary.  Of course the film takes place in winter, which adds to the dreary nature.  It is always cold and snowing.  The image is representative of this feeling.  The image is overwhelmed by blues and whites.  Colors are present from time to time and hold up well.  However, they are few and far between.  This pale nature of the image keeps the audience inside the film.  It makes you feel alienated, just like Dren.  The black levels are strong.  As with most films of this genre there is some crushing from time to time.  Contrast holds up well.  Shadow delineation allows for nice details.  There seem to be some occasional burst of artifact noise, but nothing to be alarmed about.  Film grain is intact and stable.  While the image is predominately soft, there is some nice detail and texture present.  This is definitely an above average transfer but it is not going to be reference material.

“Splice” contains a DTS-HD master Audio 5.1 audio track.  It seems like the mixers had a rough time getting into the swing of things with this film.  The first 15 minutes or so of the film are all over the place.  I thought it was going to be a long night.  Luckily the sound improves by the second act of the film.  In the opening, there is some frequency coupling errors that causes from comb filtering effects.  Sound effects, music and dialogue are not well balanced in the opening.  All this is basically a mixing issue.  As for the audio track itself, the LFE channel is put on the back-burner.  It comes in nicely in the final sequence of the film.  It also has it moments during some of Dren’s temper tantrums.  As I mentioned dialogue starts off rough but eventually comes in loud and clear.  Rear speaker activity is reserved.  There always seems to be something going on the rear channels but it is small and only occasionally enveloping.  There is never any real immersive moment in the film.  As there are no real moments of movement in the soundfield, directionality doesn’t really apply.  However, for the few instances in which effects pan around the soundfield, the directionality is decent.  It suffers a bit from a lack of tight coherency.  Like the video transfer, this is a solid audio transfer, but not exactly reference material.

The Blu-ray of “Splice” comes in a 2-disc package.  There is a Blu-ray version and a DVD Copy that also functions as a Digital Copy.  Aside form that, the Blu-ray contains but one special feature.  “A Director’s Playground: Vincenzo Natali On The Set Of ‘Splice’” is a half of one hour or so featurette that provides a nice overview of the production.  However, it is presented in standard definition.

“Splice” is almost what I would call refreshingly original.  However, since it correlates with bits and pieces of other films in its genre it lacks an ultimate appeal.  There are several instances in the film in which it slows to an almost excruciating pace.  Still, the Blu-ray features a solid audio and video transfer.  I recommend giving this one a try, but only if you have an interest in the genre.
Studio Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating R
Starring Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac, Abigail Chu, David Hewett, Brandon McGibbon
Director Vincenzo Natali
Film Release Year 2010
Release Year 2010
Resolution(s) 1080p (main feature) • 480i (supplements)
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
Running Time 1 hr. 44 mins.
Sound Formats English DTS-HD Master 5.1 • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English SDH • Spanish
Special Features “A Director’s Playground: Vincenzo Natali On The Set Of ‘Splice’”; DVD Copy; Digital Copy
Forum Link http://www.avrev.com/forum
Reviewer Noah Fleming

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