Opening this Halloween, Splinter is an independent horror film that channels several classics of the genre while delivering thrills, chills, and bloody spills. Splinter marks the directorial debut of Toby Wilkins, who brings to the screen a tightly wound and innovative creature-feature that relies mostly on practical effects to terrorize the cast.
The film follows Polly and Seth, a young, co-habitating couple as they take a journey to the woods to camp under the stars. Not being the outdoorsy types, they’re soon headed for a motel where they’re headed off and held hostage by a pair of on-the-run criminals, Lacey and Dennis. Soon, the group finds themselves battling a mysterious and powerfully hungry parasite that can take control of its victims or reanimate their corpses in its search to spread and feed.
There aren’t a lot of people in this movie, but 67% of them end up dead. Not good odds. There are four kills in the flick, a couple of which are pretty sweet.
The movie dumps its fair share of blood around the convenience store they hold up in and the creature itself is pretty gnarly looking. One guy is killed by an infected raccoon, which is number 4 on the most awesome list of ways to die. Someone is torn in half, another has an arm amputated, and there are some painful occurrences, like broken bones and cuts. A good bloody time with plenty of red.
Nada in this department. Though the film does star Jill Wagner, from Blade: The Series and the Mercury Car commercials. She is cute, yet fully clothed.
Never, ever stop to pick up a hitchhiker. If you see someone in the road, you might want to consider just mowing them down and avoiding some serious monster-killer-criminal related terror. Also, don’t touch dead things.
I had relatively high expectations for Splinter, but with a doubt nagging in my mind. I had been burned many times this year – thankfully, Splinter did the job and did it right. This is a fantastic piece of film making, a retro jolt to the arm of horror. The film reminded me a lot of John Carpenter’s The Thing, which I count among one of the best movies of all time. The creature design, which was excellent and ever shifting, owed a tip of the hat to The Thing, with violent body bending, human puppetry, and grotesquely formed body parts. The parasite builds itself up with pieces of several corpses, ever changing and rotating, and it snaps about quickly while moving, violently.
The film also features the best use of a severed hand since Evil Dead II, as the little bastard hand infiltrates the store and hunts the trio. While it may sound comedic, the stumpy digits are actually quite menacing and harken to the movement of the Facehugger from Aliens. The story is simple and fast moving, the pace quick, the camera work mostly steady, with moments of hyper-intensity. The acting is strong – everyone is sufficiently scared all the time. Wagner is a hottie who can pull off the action vibe, but the best performance is from Shea Whigham as the criminal Dennis. Of course, the real star of the show is the parasite, which starts off just as a cool idea. The way it’s portrayed, as sharp splinters of organic material that can instantly infect anyone, is novel and cool. The method by which the creature grows and eats, assimilating body parts to increase its size and lethality, is wicked awesome.
Splinter is a great film that bristles with tension and explodes with bloody violence. This film may just end up on next years 31 Days of Horror – it feels like an instant classic. By channeling The Thing, Evil Dead II, and a touch of the Alien franchise, Splinter makes the most of a single, tight location, a mutating and grotesque villain, and a novel approach to a retro genre. This film is highly recommended.