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Web Stalker – Vincenzo Natali’s Splice Comes to Life…at Last

“the Bonnie and Clyde of genetics.” But Splice was not to be, at least not then. In the twelve years since Natali first began talking about the project, he finished two other movies ( Nothing and Cypher ), a segment of Paris, Je T’Aime , and the storyboards for werewolf picture Ginger Snaps . It wasn’t until October of 2007 that Splice finally began to move ahead, it’s presence announced by the accidental leaking of some stunning pre-production concept art. Natali himself now jokes,
“what’s funny and kind of pathetic is that they mapped the whole human
genome in the time it took me to finish the script. Actually, they did
it faster than the time it took me to write the script.”

What took so long and why the push now? Explained Natali’s long-time production partner Steve Hoban: “I can say this for both Vincenzo and I: We make movies in Canada. We don’t make movies anywhere else.” If you want to make a small indie drama, Canada’s not a bad place to do it, but if you’re looking to fund and shoot a high concept, $30 million or so scifi-horror film… well, try and name another large budget genre picture financed in Canada over the past ten years. It wasn’t until French outfit Gaumont put up some cash and Guillermo del Toro got involved as an exec producer that things finally got rolling.

And then, ironically, being a Canadian production in 2007 became a huge asset: Because American productions were being canceled in the lead up to the writer’s strike, Adrien Brody suddenly became available to join local girl Sarah Polley in the lead roles; the two of them offered instant credibility. Says Hoban: “For us, though, the reason to cast them had nothing to do with whether they liked this kind of film or had done this kind of film before or not. It was all about casting actors that you would believe to be scientists… Adrien and Sarah were the leading two who were the right kind of age and who you could really believe.”

With two high profile stars and del Toro on board, Natali’s long delayed creature feature was finally up and running. Which leads us back to those pre-production images. Stunning and gorgeous and unsettling, not to mention creepily sexual, they tore through the Web getting fans buzzing everywhere. Of course, they were also lifted from a sales book carelessly shared with the press by the international sales company backing the picture and as quickly as they appeared on different sites, cease and desist letters were issued to get them taken down. Images remain here and there; but the fan responses to those early pictures are still in place:

“Cube could almost go down as one of my favorite all time movies. The awesome work Vincenzo Natali can do on an indie budget was impressive. I can’t wait to see what he can do with some bigger money behind him.” (Codenamerocky, Bloody Disgusting)

“Being a massive Sci Fi geek and Del Toro, Natali lover I’ve been following Splice for awhile now. The premise is intriguing and the talent attached is impressive. I hope that Natali’s vision is allowed to grace our screens as Cube and Nothing remain alongside Gattaca the best examples of truly great Science Fiction film of the past decade.” (whedon, KarlHungus.com)

Early reactions were nearly evenly divided between scifi and horror sites, but it strayed into some more unusual territory as well, such as this site that critiques the use of science in movies and breaks down one of the actual experiments that Natali cites as one of his principal inspirations. Their conclusion? Movie science and actual science are very different things. (As someone who spent time working in a lab in his university days, I can say conclusively that this is because actual science is mostly just people standing around looking at things.)

So after twelve years of silence, momentum is really picking up: As I type this, interest is whirring once again thanks to a September release date and publication of the first official stills — shots that showcase creature work and all — on Bloody Disgusting. And with the pace that horror and scifi sites alike are picking up on this, I can only imagine what these same people will do when a trailer finally arrives. “From the stills it looks disturbing, which is good,” says the GeekOfEvil, “Hopefully, this will be something with the same tone and impact as Cube (one of the finest things to emerge from Canada…ever!)” And a hearty amen to that.

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