Spliced (2002)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-04-24 14:31

Directed by: Gavin Wilding
Written by: Ellen Cook
Produced by:Mark Reid

Reviewed by: Brett H.

ďThis is so stupid!Ē
ďUh, more stupid than somebody running around dressed as the killer in some cheesy b-movie?Ē

After deciding to embark on the journey through the rocky roads of Canadian horror cinema, the first thing I did was see if I could find a horror movie made in my home province of Saskatchewan. I figured itíd be a long shot and at best thereíd be some random backwoods slasher shot in the middle of the thick forests in the northern part of the province or perhaps even a direct to video Native legend film (which are sadly and unfathomably absent from the world of Canadian terror). Hell, an exploitation filmmaker taking advantage of the sad story of the Willowbunch Giant even crossed my mind. It didnít take me long to find out that there was indeed a horror movie made in Saskatchewan, but it was nothing like I had pictured in my mind. Somehow slipping totally under my radar, Spliced was made in 2002. Shot in Regina and Moose Jaw, my jaw hit the floor when I read one of the stars of the film, Drew Lachey of 98 Degrees fame. For the first time in my travels through Maple Leaf Macabre, I wish that I had left a stone unturned.

Mary (Liane Balaban) is a horror movie buff (term used loosely) who just loves to be scared, citing sexual arousal as one of the reasons she is so interested in genre works. Sheís a bit of an outcast at school, but still has friends and although sheís not the popular girl, the hottest guy in school wants her in a bad way. His name is Brad (Drew Lachey) and heís a pretty nice guy, much nicer than even her friends for the most part. A movie entitled The Wisher is sweeping the nation and Mary goes to see it with her friends before getting sick in the middle of the film. Itís nothing new to her as sheís been advised to stop watching horror films due to her sleepwalking problems. She begins to see the Wisher, a sort of Djinn-like being with a glass shard claw on a daily basis and her wishes begin coming true, with devastating consequences.

Spliced sounds watchable enough, contrived from movies such as Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Wishmaster, but ultimately it fails due to poor pacing and lack of kills. Like Demons before it, the most interesting parts of the movie take place on the screen being watched by characters in the film. Demons has Bobby Rhodes in it along with Eurotrash flair, but Spliced obviously does not. The legend of the film regards every tree having a wisher, but years ago a woodsman took advantage of this and the wisher turned on him, even though the wishes granted had terrible consequences in the first place. So, why does this supernatural entity exist outside the realm of the movie the kids are watching? A few lame twists explain this (sort of) and thereís a subplot regarding subliminal images within the film, but it amounts to nothing. At the end it is brought up in relation to the Wisher, but itís totally inane and basically an afterthought that couldnít possibly play any role in the motive of the killer. They subliminal images were symbols, not words, and what are the odds someone is going to know the meaning of a random symbol? Unlikely. At the end, a character in the film merely says that the subliminal images are present (uh, we know that already, we saw them with our own two eyes), but itís never elaborated to as to what they mean. Potentially interesting subplot, denied.

Slashers arenít the most believable film sensations out there, but many of them are funny or gory or titillating enough to garner some enjoyment. Spliced is none of this in particular. There are very few kills, but they are fun to watch and pretty bloody, but just too sparse. There is a nude scene that is very appreciated and the direction and acting is adequate, but the key part of a slasher with a mythical/masked villain is to give him a strong back-story and a lot of insight into the motive or at least a good twist. This canít be said for Spliced and itís just a guy with bad cakey white makeup stalking Mary around the streets of Regina or Moose Jaw (although the film is set anywhere). Heíll come out of the shadows for a mere moment while Mary says, ďI thought I saw somethingĒ for the umpteenth time. Even the movie theyíre watching is pretty bad (but itís funny and entertaining, thatís key) but itís still absurd to think that The Wisher would ever make over $100 million in bank at the box office. The fanaticism around this fictional movie (which is also an alternate title to Spliced) mimics that of The Blair Witch Project, itís just so silly, thereís nothing remotely original about it. Bad movies can be fun and bad movies can be big hits, but thereís no way a piece of shit like The Wisher could make more than Scream. Thereís Wisher inspired murders taking place all over the world and this is basically a throwback to Scream 2, but again, thereís no real explanations.

Typical of a Canadian slasher, the characters (except the bitch, of course) arenít nearly as annoying as their American brethren. Mary and Brad both seem real nice, so there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, but sadly it doesnít help the film much. When little happens in a movie and subplots amount to nowhere, itís hard to recommend a purchase except to the most devoted slasher enthusiasts. Older horror films have a special place in the hearts of many and they have an entirely different soul than the flashy newcomers on the scene now. At least the film isnít PG-rated and Lachey isnít a distraction at all, so Iíll give him some props as well. One thing Spliced did was put cop cars in the flick that are identical to ones that roam the streets of my town, so at the very least I finally get to see a cop car that actually is a cop car to me in a movie.

Screen Media's DVD is full frame; audio and video is fine for what the film is and thereís an alternate ending and commentary. The alternate ending is pretty much as bad as the original ending, so thereís not much to be seen here. Thereís a brief moment where a Saskatchewan flag is shown way in the background, surely a nod to people in Moose Jaw and Regina, probably the only audiences to see it. Iíd like to recommend the film at least a bit because itís not all bad, but the pacing is just too poor and itís only entertaining in short bursts. You can do better with your time with such a wealth of amazing horror films out there. Itís kind of upsetting that a Saskatchewan based horror film doesnít even take advantage of the scenery the province has to offer, but thereís tons of scenes outside and inside the Galaxy Theater in Regina. Weíre not called ďLand of Living SkiesĒ for nothing. An aspect of many Canadian horrors set in Ontario or even Quebec is that they feature lush highway scenes showing the outskirts of the larger centres, but itís not something worked into this film. I can tolerate dullness when thereís a decent twist or a lot of kills, but this one is just too plain. Saskatchewan: home of a million people, 100 000 lakes and riversÖ and one dead slasher film. Trash it!

comments powered by Disqus Ratings: