The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

An excellent exercise in suspension of disbelief

with 20 comments

I really must stop paying attention to the IMDb ratings and user reviews. By now I should have learned what a lousy instrument they are to determine whether a movie is worth watching or not. Excellent movies are downrated to oblivion. Mediocre movies reach skyrocket levels for unknown reasons. There are so many factors at play – including political and religious views as well as expressions national pride, things that have very little to do with the quality of the film.

Splice from last year is one of those that has fallen victim to the mob that dominate the database. It got a rough treatment with an average rating of 6,0 and an abundance of 1/10 star reviews from people who claim that it’s about the worst movie they’ve ever seen. You know the complaints from other movies. It’s the usual tirades about how they wanted to walk out of the theatre and how they feel robbed of their ticket payment and their time. Their main complaint is that this film is nothing but a freak show, as immoral as it is unbelievable.

Poor guys. I can’t but pity them. What a boring life they must live, stuck in their own little neat box of moral standpoints, where nothing can exist that doesn’t fit exactly into their standards! And what suffering this deficiency of suspension of disbelief must put them through! It will surely limit their options. How many great, imaginative movies won’t they miss out? How few and how boring aren’t the films that will pass their requirement for realism? It must be boring to be them. Let’s hope that science will come up with a solution, some way to fix them. A magic pill.

Disturbing and charming
But let’s screw the haters and talk about Splice. I’m blessed with a decent ability to suspend my disbelief and I really loved this weird, disturbing, touching, funny and totally charming little piece of horror influenced science fiction.

My exercise in suspension started in the very beginning of the moive as I was introduced to the main characters, the young and successful scientists Clive and Elsa. While they worked for a company called N.E.R.D, this was about the last thing they looked like. I could have sworn that Adrien Brody was the lead guitarist in one of the bands I listened to at a rock festival last summer. And this was just the warm-up of a story that turned crazier and crazier with every minute.

Basically Splice is a modern take on the Frankenstein story. With the usage of advanced and illegal gene technology, Clive and Elsa create a new life form, which they hope will carry the key to a lot of the medical issues humans have. The experiment goes astray and the beautiful and mysterious creature Dren is born. Rather than killing her, which was their idea to begin with, they end up raising her in secrecy as a daughter. However problems will occur. This was maybe to be expected, but as the movie goes on, the plot gets more and more twisted and the end wasn’t like anything I could have imagined.

From disbelief to enjoyment
My initial reaction to it was a little bit grumpy and suspicious: “this REALLY feels like a second rate film”, but somehow I was pulled into that world and mindset. It was my old geeky science fiction fan roots coming up to the surface again I imagine. I ended up in a state of mind where I accepted whatever new idea or twist that was introduced. While there were some very creepy moments, reminding me of the creepiness of Aldomovar’s The Skin I live in, it was beautiful and fascinating at the same time. The director and screenwriter Vincenzo Natali has a vivid, not to say wild imagination, and I enjoyed seeing it coming alive with the help of special effects that by far exceeded what you could expect from a movie with a budget of this size.

According to an interview in the extras, he had been waiting for ten years to get the chance to do this movie. Well, I’m glad he finally got the chance to make it. He’s not only a talented and interesting film maker, he also seems to be a genuinly nice guy. I’m glad that I discovered this film after being pointed to it and I’m glad that I’m able to suspend my disbelief so I can enjoy this kind of movies without ruining them with questions and doubts. It’s a magical world.

Splice (Vincenzo Natali, CA, 2010)  My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

December 30, 2011 at 1:00 am

Posted in Splice

20 Responses

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  1. I don’t trust IMDB users at all. They don’t have valid opinions and I don’t trust ratings either because opinions often change. I no longer use star ratings, with the exception of what I give for the LAMB scores, as my feelings about a film would often change and such. There’s a fallacy to it.

    I wanted to see this film but never could find the time nor the enthusiasm for it though I’m sure it is quite good.

    Steven Flores

    December 30, 2011 at 1:19 am

    • There is definitely a fallacy in ratings. And yet I can’t help being drawn to them. I can’t deny that if the reviewer gives ratings, it’s the first thing I throw a glance at and it will help me in the reading of the review. Sometimes they’re a bit clarifying. Even if you focus on a few negatives in your review, you might like the movie on the whole, and the rating can give out that information.
      Like you I see that my views can change over time. On the other hand, a review with only words and no ratings will get just as dated, won’t it? For now being I’ve decided to keep doing the rating thing. It forces me to clarify my thoghts about a movie. But I might give it up at some point too. I can agree on that it’s not free from problems.

      Well it’s not a hard movie to watch, not at all. So if you feel a bit bored or too tired to watch something heavy and deep I think you could enjoy it.


      December 30, 2011 at 8:03 am

  2. Interesting take Jessica. I might give this movie a chance after all. This seems out of the beaten path and if that’s the reason folks are hating it, then that’s their loss.


    December 30, 2011 at 6:00 am

    • I think it’s their loss. If you want something different, go for it. Just be prepared with an open mind.


      December 30, 2011 at 8:04 am

  3. I’ve just moved this to the top of my NetFlix queue (you know why). I’m now more interested than I was in seeing it.


    December 30, 2011 at 6:16 am

    • Yay! I look forward to see what you’ll make of it!


      December 30, 2011 at 8:04 am

  4. See I have avoided this movie for a long time. Not because I got scared away by ratings, but mainly for the fact that I am not good at this genre.

    I am better now, maybe I will finally give this a watch.

    Scott Lawlor

    December 30, 2011 at 11:40 am

    • Well if you don’t like the genre it might not be for you. For my own part I’m such a sucker for sci-fi that is more about ideas than about shooting in space. It’s easy enough to watch, though you might, just might find certain events a bit… appalling. 🙂 Looking forward to see what you’ll make of it.


      December 30, 2011 at 11:44 am

  5. I’ve seen this movie based on the fact that I think the directors Cube is absolutely brilliant and of course Eberts 3 star rating.

    But this movie was overall a disappointment. It’s an OK movie but I expected more of it.

    As for suspension of disbelief, I’m pretty good at it too. If I’m beginning to think “that doesn’t make sense” there is something seriously wrong. And once you start thinking that you’re beginning to think it all the time, the movie is ruined.


    December 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    • Sorry to hear you didn’t like it. As for me I’ve heard so much good about Cube that I’m really looking forward to see it. If you thought it was that much better than this one, it really must be quite something!


      December 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      • Cube is brilliant… infinitely better than Splice.


        January 5, 2012 at 3:55 am

        • Hm… with that remark I suspect you didn’t like it very much. We’re up for an interesting discussion I think. 🙂


          January 5, 2012 at 10:17 am

  6. Look, I watched this film and initially felt it was one terrible effort – but the more I thought about it afterwards, and the more I began to realise that I was thinking waaay too much about it after the fact, I came to the conclusion that regardless of your thoughts on the concepts, ideas or characters within Splice, it’s a deeply affecting film. Either repulsion or intrigue are the dominant feelings upon watching this, and while initially I favored the former, by the end I think I had more of the latter.

    It’s not on par with his earlier film, Cube, but it’s a worthwhile hard-sci-fi film for people to invest a little time in. Somehow, it reminded me of a Cronenberg film, for some reason….

    Rodney Twelftree

    December 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    • I must admit that the extras also helped pumping up my enthusiasm for it as well. The love and the effort they’ve put into this movie… the passion of the director… the amazing actors that did the creature… the decision to not go for a cgi solution but to have real actors for the most parts of it… it made me appreciate it a little bit more.


      December 30, 2011 at 3:34 pm

  7. I’m glad you enjoyed this. I saw Splice several months ago and also found it to be a good little sci-fi horror film. Pretty well acted, and what a twisted climax. I definitely recommend it to fans of the genre.

    Bonjour Tristesse

    December 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

  8. I’m one of the haters. 😉 Well, hate is a strong word. I just thought it was an very bad movie. Usually I have no problem at all with suspending disbelief. I didn’t have a problem with that in this case either. That didn’t have anything to do with the fact I didn’t like the movie. The theme and story is really interesting but the excecution is terrible. Heres my “review” Google translated.

    Hmm, it’s not much of the review I see now, just a rant where really don’t manage to write about why I don’t like the movie. 😉


    January 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    • I just noticed your review as it reappeared in my feed. And that’s quite a harsh one! Ain’t it lovely when you disagree completely once in a while? I have a different view, but it was a fun read nevertheless. Cheers! 🙂


      January 4, 2012 at 5:09 pm

  9. I liked this movie a lot as well. I understand why people didn’t care for it because this film does not pull punches and is not always easy to watch. But that’s why I think it’s so damn good. yes, it’s a Frankenstein variant, but I like it a heck of a lot more than Frankenstein.

    James Blake Ewing

    January 10, 2012 at 5:48 am

    • Yes, there’s nothing wrong about doing a Frankenstein version. Hey, some people say that there are just a limited amount of stories, I think it might be seven or so, that are told again over and over again with smaller variations. I think this take was innovative.


      January 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm

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