Friday, June 4, 2010

Natali Tears Splice From the Headlines

Heidi MacDonald, kick ass reporter most known for The Beat (AKA the most badass comics blog on the planet for many years running) braves the world of super science to talk to director Vincenzo Natali about his newest film SPLICE...

Dread of technology has always been a staple of the horror film genre, but Vincenzo Natali’s timing with his new creature film Splice couldn’t be better. Just as scientists have announced that they have created an “artificial life form” with synthetic DNA for the first time, his new film presents a scenario in which two fictional scientists (played by Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody) deal with the ramifications of their own meddling with genetics. The result is a new take on the Frankenstein theme, which, Natali says, has many aspects of a love story.

“There’s nothing in the film that couldn’t happen,” Natali told reporters recently. ”It’s extremely unlikely, but there’s nothing that goes completely outside the realm of technology. It’s a little beyond what we know now but grounded in fact.“

Although some would see Splice as a cautionary tale, Natali says his personal feelings are very much pro genetic research. “We have to go there and it’s naturally where we are headed. Clearly it being a horror film implies that we should be very cautious with this technology, but I am in no way opposed to. We are destined to go down that road and might as well embrace it.”

In the film Polley and Brody create “Dren” an artificial life form that affects both characters deeply. Natali compares the story to elements of the Frankenstein mythos, and especially the Elsa Lancaster character in Bride of Frankenstein. “We had to mutate that story and take it somewhere new. Frankenstein was a father but this is very much a mother/daughter story – ultimately it becomes a love triangle.“

Dren was created via a hybrid process that involved CGI and other methods. Says Natali. “While she is hopefully an amazing creation she is also very much a character that people can fall in love with. “

The film itself is also a bit of an unlikely hybrid. Initially released as a low budget feature, Splice won acclaim on the festival circuit and started some internet buzz, eventually catching the attention of producer Joel Silver, who arranged for it to get wider distribution via Warner Brothers. But it wasn’t always a sure thing. Since finishing the film a year ago, Natali was in negotiations two film companies that ultimately went out of business; luckily these ups and downs ended up leaving the film available for Silver to pluck from the indie circuit. “I wasn’t sure what would happen but the best possible results happened. Everything had to go wrong for it to go right in a sense.”

Although his earlier films like Cube have won Natali a loyal cult audience of horror aficionados, the buzz for Splice has put him smack in themiddle of the hot list, and he’s just been tapped to direct an adaptation of William Gibson’s beloved cyberpunk classic Neuromancer. With wider success looming before him, Natali he still considers himself lucky to have made two horror films that are highly personal. “Indie films are hard enough to make but when you have complex special effects they get more complicated. To do what I want ed to do you need studio support and it was very difficult to secure. But on the other hand I can’t do something I don’t care about.”

Splice opens nationwide June 4th, 2010.

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