You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Vincenzo Natali’ category.

While Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In (2008) is difficult to place for certain, I think it sits closer to romance than horror.

Yes, one of the kids is a vampire but who’s to say they can’t fall in love? Vincenzo Natali’s contribution to Paris, je t’aime (2006) is a short about an infatuated female vampire, who ends up devouring Elijah Wood. Violence is always near the surface of the film, though so too is tenderness. For every instance of a teenager being strung up by their feet, drained of blood, there is the touching delivery of a Morse code message from Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) to Eli (Lina Leandersson), tapped out gently on a dividing bedroom wall.

While watching, I thought of Żuławski’s picture Possession (1981). It’s pretty crazy and the lump of tentacled flesh with which Anna (Isabelle Adjani) is captivated is certainly more monstrous than eleven year old Eli. But, like Let The Right One In, Possession does not sit easily in the horror genre. It probes the nature of love (and the loss of it), exploring a messy divorce and its effect on a child.

Here’s a short post on two complex films that are beautifully shot and about which there is a lot more to say.

I saw Vincenzo Natali’s film Splice (2009) just last night. It’s an over the top and slightly silly pseudo-scientific affair that plays on a growing public awareness of the potential possibilities of genetic engineering. It’s good, in some places.

The picture is at its most engaging when Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) must struggle with the question of just how human Dren (Delphine Chanéac) could become. The early scenes, in which the two try to create their human-animal hybrid, are forgettable. The corporate aspect, Joan Chorot’s (Simona Maicanescu) search for the ‘magic protein’, feels like background noise. In the final scene, when Joan presses Elsa to continue with the experiment (not to give any plot lines away), before offering a mere gesture of compassion with a rub on the shoulder, she seems as two-dimensional as Aaron in Titus Andronicus.

Even the two slug-like creatures, the experiments that precede Dren, though perhaps quite sweet in their own way, are not more than odd. Their need to ‘imprint’ is as unconvincing as the Na’vi’s ‘connections’ in Avatar (2009): the interweaving of little tentacles, each slotting into their correct place, is reminiscent of a USB flash drive and suggests that both directors may have drawn inspiration from their computers, saying to themselves, ‘that could be suitably sci-fi, though I’ll need to make it more organic’.

At it’s best, though, the film is emotionally demanding and morally challenging. It is certainly strange to witness Elsa treat a young Dren as if she were her own child. Later, though, we learn that she uses her own DNA to create the creature. We’re made to ask two questions: in what sense is Dren human and to what extent is she Elsa’s offspring? I certainly began by treating Dren as a creature, as something else, but it is indicative of the skill of the picture that in a climactic scene, when Elsa, driven by anger and fear, cooly operates on Dren, I felt quite revolted. Elsa says into her dictaphone: ‘Cosmetically “human” affectations should be eliminated where possible’; it has become ‘necessary to remove her […] stinger.’ When Elsa begins to cut Dren’s dress, it feels as degrading and as dangerous as a rape.