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Splice – How Joel Silver is big fan of gothic horror

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Splice - Delphine Chaneac
Dren (Delphine Chaneac) © Warner Bros and Dark Castle Entertainment

This is a first for Joel Silver. Instead of producing the sci fi thriller Splice from its initial inception, he saw the finished movie and liked it so much he is releasing it, along with Warner Brothers, through his company, Dark Castle.

The movie follows scientists Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) and their new creation, spliced with both human and animal DNA, named Dren (Delphne Chaneac). It’s an experiment that goes dreadfully wrong.

Silver spoke with Film Review Online about what impressed him when he first saw Splice, and why he decided to give it a helping hand.

How were you made aware of this film?

Joel Silver
Joel Silver

I saw one of the stills of the movie in one of the trade papers and it intrigued me. I like the Frankenstein story and I’m a big fan of gothic horror, and I just thought it was an interesting idea and a new way to tell the story. I saw the log line, said that I would like to see the movie, they sent me the movie and I had no idea what I was going to see. I had not read the script. I just watched the movie.

When that (sex) scene came along, I said, “They’re not going to show us that. They can’t possibly show that.” And then, I said, “I can’t deal with this.” I just felt it was so effective that people would want to see the movie. Warner Bros doesn’t even have an acquisition department anymore. They don’t acquire anything. There are very few acquisition departments left in town. The smaller companies have them, but the bigger studios really don’t. And, Dark Castle had the ability to do that, so I showed it to the studio and they said, “Let’s go for it.”

Is that the first time you’ve ever done that?

Yeah. Dark Castle has released 11 films, up to this point. This will be our 12th movie, and I felt that it was the audience that I wanted to go after. I think it will work. I hope it works.

Has this opened up the possibility of more acquisitions?

I always said, from the beginning of our model, that I would do this if something came along. And, when this came along, it made sense. Sure. We’ll see what happens.

The movie was so special. Vincenzo Natali (the writer/director) had a hard time making it. He worked on it for eight years. (His film) Cube was eight years ago. He really tried to get this together, and the mainstream studios weren’t supportive of it, so he had to make it off the grid. When he made it and we saw it, we brought it back into the grid.

What were the studios turned off by?

Splice - Delphine Chaneac
Dren (Delphine Chaneac) © Warner Bros and Dark Castle Entertainment

The idea is fresh, but it’s not like it’s never been done before. There’s The Island of Dr Moreau and Species. There have been movies that have had this type of idea, but I just think maybe the concept was too out there. But, it wasn’t for me.

What changes did you make to the film?

Vincenzo had just rushed to get it done for the festival circuit and he had stuff that he wanted to do, that he had more time to do.

There was a schedule and we had a date, but he was able to go through it and tweak some things, fix some visual effects, do a new dub and really do what he wanted to do, like work on the main title, and I was supportive in helping him do that.

Most people that see the movie, who saw it in Sundance, will probably not even be able to tell what was done. But, he feels better.

When you make films like this, do you consider how much to show the creature?

When I made Predator, I remember that I was so conscious about not showing the creature. I just didn’t want to show (him) because he looked so silly. I just cut off of him. I’d go to him for a minute, and then I’d cut away. I didn’t want to let people study what is a big rubber face.

But, when Vincenzo made this movie, he hangs on Dren. You just can’t take your eyes off of her. You’re looking at her wondering, “What is different about her? What did they do?” You just can’t take your eyes off of her. It’s just incredible.

What do you think about Adrien Brody doing the updated version of Predators?

Splice - Delphine Chaneac and Adrien Brody
Dren (Delphine Chaneac) and Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) © Warner Bros and Dark Castle Entertainment

I don’t really know that much about it, but I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting picture. I’ve been there and done that, though.

This film seems open to a sequel. Is that something you’ve thought about?

I always like to make sequels. It’s a nice business to be in. It would be nice if this movie can generate that much interest. I’d love to continue the story. It’s designed for that. But, the audience has to respond to it. If they do, then we’ll talk about it, sure.