Splice creator discusses film
The co-writer and director of Splice, Vincenzo Natali, has been talking about the film that is still awaiting some decent distribution deals. Outside of Sitges it's only been seen in Belgium, Finland and Germany, and that's terrible news considering what it could bring. However light is at the end of the tunnel for his ten year project, and that's in the form of the Sundance screening on the 22nd of January, and that should bring buyers galore.
When I first heard about Splice I was interested. Two scientists turn against legal and ethical rules to push forward with an experiment they believe in, splicing together human and animal DNA to create a new creature. One of their attempts, which they name Dren, develops from a deformed female infant into a beautiful but dangerous winged human-chimera in stunning time, and quickly builds a bond with both of her creators, a bond that soon turns deadly.
The film-maker Vincenzo Natali, who was also behind the very good Cube, has finished Splice and is about to screen it at Sundance, and while that might bring deals galore and allow it to be seen across the world, he's keeping quiet on the distribution deals, saying that the Sundance screening isn't about the film hinging on distribution and that there are already talks in place. That's great news.
ShockTillYouDrop have a very good, indepth interview with the man that delves into this film and his love of creature films in general. Here are a few quotes that drew my attention.
He opens by talking about what inspired him to write the story, the shocking image of an ear being grown off the back of a mouse that drew him to the realm of genetic engineering. That's when the idea started and since then Splice has taken ten years to develop.
Talking of the creature herself, which we've seen in some states so far, he says:
"She's a fascinating creature because she changes. She goes through a number of quite dramatic, physical transformations throughout the film. As much as possible, I tried to be as biologically plausible as I could. I wanted Dren to be a creature you could really believe in. That's why, as much as I could, I used prosthetics and real people - just digitally augmented them. Dren is a creature you could believe in and she's a creature you can love. That was the goal…
…I think she's entirely unique. I don't think there's anything quite like her on film. I think most creature movies tend to treat their creatures one-dimensionally. And Dren, as a character, is well-rounded. At points very sweet and gentle. At other times very vindictive and cruel. She's a complicated characters and we watch her grow from a single cell to her full adult form. It's a really amazing character arc. Delphine, as an actor, is a unique presence. There's no one out there who quite has her quality. She can be innocent and highly sophisticated and dangerous."
That sounds incredibly promising for the film and the character, for there's a simple way this could go and it would be to follow something such as Species. This sounds as though it might be pushing more into the relationships of the characters than the horror-type events in the story, something that could carve itself out from the typical monster films.
He then tells us a little about the reason for the film and what he wants from the lead characters, as well as why he chose the two lead actors, and again I find myself being taken on board and pushed torwards the film by what he's saying.
"The underlying notion of my movie is to find humanity in the monster, and the monster in the humans. I cast Sarah and Adrien because even though their characters do despicable and questionable things over the course of story, you never lose sympathy for them. Because they're so appealing and so human. We can always relate to them even when we're seeing their darker side. It's an exploration are all of those things. On one hand their motivated by the pure science of creating Dren - they're working for a pharmaceutical company - but there are personal reasons. I needed actors of their caliber to pull that off."
He's clearly showing a depth to the film that we haven't seen in the trailers and is only hinted at in some of the blurbs we've seen, however if it is there through the film then we could be looking forward to a really good film with a couple of strong performances. Or so we would hope.
Still, if it's that good why has there been so much trouble getting it made? Well that seems to be clear as he tells us some of the problems the film had getting off the ground, and that he had to reach outside of Hollywood to see the film get made.
"It's not a cheap movie. It has a double-whammy of also having some very taboo material in it. Not to give too much away, there's sex in this movie and major studios are not comfortable with that. It took a French company, the French culture who is not at all prudish when it comes to back something like this, to make it happen. Ten years ago, when I started, it all fell apart, but it eventually worked out."
Well done the French film industry. Finally, he talks about the expectations for what he hopes from the Sundance screening, both from an audience point of view and from the screening itself.
"I hope I disturb a lot of people. If I haven't done that, I haven't done my job. That's what this movie sets out to do. It takes people to places they might not be comfortable with, but for me as a filmmaker, I think it's kind of thrilling. That's what horror films should do. The strength of horror as a genre is that it allows us to traverse into places that are frightening, that we are not comfortable visiting in our every day life. But let's do lurk…
…I don't know what'll happen at Sundance. Maybe we'll get boo'ed off the stage"
He's really caught me with what he's said about the film and made me want to see it even more than I had before I'd read the very good interview, which is well worth reading. What do you think though? Has he managed to capture your imagination with the film?
I think the taboo aspect is something that will pull in a lot of people and drive a bit of criticism, however it's going to be fascinating if he's explored the reasons behind it and the characters motivations. I'm hoping that Splice hits the UK and the US after getting strong distribution deals after Sundance.
Let us know if you see it.