PLEASE NOTE: The following article contains major spoilers for the movie Splice.
Thirteen years after endearing himself to science fiction fans with the cult classic Cube, independent filmmaker Vincenzo Natali has finally hit the big time. His decade-in-development passion-project Splice - with Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as genetic engineers who create a rapidly-evolving human/animal hybrid named Dren, only to see the experiment veer in a wholly unexpected direction - was a surprise smash on the Sundance scifi/horror scene, and now it's being unleashed on unsuspecting summer movie audiences courtesy of Dark Castle Films.
Shortly after screening Splice for myself, I was given the opportunity to interview Mr. Natali in person. He's a humble, unassuming man who still seems awestruck to see his offbeat little movie set up as kind of alternative summer blockbuster, but he was eager to talk about the film, its production and the very real science behind the fiction. He was especially eager to talk about the "science part"; as a result, I've actually had to omit a few passages where we literally ceased talking about the movie and instead just mutually geeked out over a shared fascination with newsworthy biotech minutia.
MovieBob: I've got serious questions, but I've got one, I guess, silly-ish question that I've just got to ask so I figure, might as well knock that one out first and just get to it. Is that alright? [Mr. Natali nods] Okay, cool. At the beginning of the third act, the relationship between Adrien Brody and Dren takes a turn that a lot of the audience probably won't see coming.
(Note: This is why there's a spoiler warning. In the scene in question, Dren - by this point having evolved to look like an uncomfortably lovely human woman save for her plus-sized eyes, prehensile tail and triple-jointed legs - strips off her clothes and attempts to seduce Adrien Brody's character. She succeeds.)
MB: So the question is, do you realize you may have made the "would ya?" movie of 2010? [big laugh from Natali] Because people will talk about this, about the themes and the science, but the thing that a lot of male members of the audience will be asking over their coffee and drinks after seeing it is: "So, dude, would ya?" Last year it was Avatar...
Vincenzo Natali: Right! [laughs] That's right!
MB: Was that going through your mind at all?
VN: Oh, yeah. That was the [reason] for making the whole movie. I think it encapsulates everything that the movie is about, because it is the ultimate transgression. [Splice] is about discovering the monster in the humans, and the humanity in the monster. So I knew that scene would elicit a pretty strong response, and I have to admit it's exciting to watch audiences react to that because people react in so many different ways - some people laugh, some gasp, some groan - so it's a very uncomfortable scene but I think in a very fun kind of way.
MB: Were you expecting the film to get this wide of a release?
VN: Not in my life, no. It is an utterly surreal experience. Never would I have thought that a major studio would pick up Splice and release it in the middle of the summer. It's amazing. Impossible to think this would happen, but it has. And it's all thanks to [producer] Joel Silver. He found the film at Sundance and he really believed in it, and embraced it ... embraced everything that's strange and dangerous about it.