An awfully underrated horror movie called Splice currently ranks as the 9th most-watched film in Netflix‘s entire library today. Why is this pic attracting such massive audiences, though? Is it gaining in popularity simply for being featured on the streamer’s top 10 list, or does it possess some inherent quality that needs excavating?
Directed by Vincenzo Natali back in 2009, the film follows a group of geneticists hoping to enter the annals of history by successfully splicing together human and animal DNA and thus creating hybrid lab rats. Starring Adrien Brody alongside Sarah Polley and Delphine Chanéac, the premise alone is enough to make you feel uncomfortable and despite some mixed reviews upon release, it’s a smart, well written and at times truly terrifying flick that doesn’t get anywhere near as much credit as it deserves.
Splice belongs to a horror sub-genre known as body horror. Popularized by filmmakers like David Cronenberg, these stories see characters permanently transform into hideous creatures. Though the genre has been kept alive by contemporary titans like Rick and Morty, who parodied its style in the episode “Rick Potion #9,” its roots are actually much older.
In fact, body horror stories are pretty much as old as civilization itself. The Golden Ass, which served as a major inspiration for Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove, tells the story of a man transforming into, well, a donkey. This particular tale was written by a dude living in the Roman Empire, and he set the trend for such stories thereafter.
It wasn’t until quite recently that bodily transformation began to be depicted as dark and twisted, though. Texts like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as well as Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis featured characters whose physical changes were rendered as nothing but grotesque. Sometimes, their unappealing appearance would reflect their rotten character. At other times, it would simply be a stroke of bad luck.
Horror movies have become increasingly popular over the course of the pandemic and according to one recent study conducted by a University of Chicago alumnus, people who like scary films are better equipped to deal with crises on a mental level than those who don’t. So, if you’re feeling stressed, watching something like Splice on Netflix may actually do you some good.