Splinter (2008)

Director: Toby Wilkins:
Starring: Shea Whigham, Paulo Costanzo, Jill Wagner, Rachel Kerbs. USA. 1h 28m.

Seemingly inspired by The Thing (1982) on a heavy dose of meth, Splinter brings the horror a little closer to home, you don’t have to visit the arctic to encounter a viral creature, there could be one out back right now. Along with the threat of this insane and unforgiving monster we also have to deal with two very different couples one of them being a redneck version of Bonny and Clyde, yet surprisingly the two story lines do work.

The beginning of this is great, there is a petrol attendant attacked by what looks like a rabid animal in the toilets of a station. Then; after some creepy credits showing lots of dead and mutilated animals we’re introduced to a preppy couple who get carjacked by the redneck Bonny and Clyde,she’s missing her fix and he’s just trying to get to the border. When they stop for gas, everything changes, the characters, atmosphere and just everything. The addict goes to shoot up in the toilet and finds the attendant who’s begging for death as he’s being taken over by the virus the spiny creature has given him, she’s soon attacked and taken out and the jail bird and preppy kids are now locked in the service station trying to figure out what is attacking them and how to fight back.

It will get under your skin

While the teeny cast are all held hostage but this unique bio terror , it really has to be noted that hardly any of the effects were computer generated, it really is a man in a suit jobby apart from the one running hand scene which is a major credit to the horror scene. It also has an awesome how to section on the DVD that shows you how to make your very own splinter halloween pumpkin, and i have to admit that it’s freaky even if you’ve not seen the film and can’t make the connection, but if you HAVE seen the film, you won’t visit a house with one of these on the porch.

The script of this movie is crazy, while everyone is pretty on edge and struggling with being trapped, carjacked, going cold turkey and dealing with a monster, the dialogue is pretty fresh, it’s not your typical “oh shit we’re trapped in a petrol station being attacked by a creature” script here, there is minimal screaming and freaking out, and some interesting banter and almost jovial name calling, mostly aimed one girl.. and she is a “firecracker”. Not much to report on a soundtrack here, the opportunity to add some depth using music was lost, there are some interesting camera shots as they try to illustrate the peculiar movements of this unusual beast, sadly the shaky cam does get a little obtuse and ruins some shots.

The characters are quite believable, there isn’t anything overly impressive here but still the cast are all quite concrete in their characters. The most enjoyable was the more seasoned actor Dennis (Shea Whigham) you can get a lot from his background and he seems to do his character justice, it’s clear that he’s a man wanted by the police and having to deal with his drug addicted scatty girlfriend, but he actually turns things around and become a fairly decent sorta chap. His drugged up and useless girlfriend character was terrible and flat but luckily we don’t have to put up with that nonsense for long.

During the course of the movie the strangers have to band together for survival once they really begin to fathom the danger they are really in, there’s a brilliant unique sense of danger and the fear is amped up by a overborn creeping terror as well as jumpscares, gore and suspence and it’s balanced out really well, especially when the team work out how the creature is hunting them, they come up with all sorts of methods of moving around undetected. And Wilkins ability to adapt a character really forces you to

Toby Wilkins is a British film director and to his credit he has only directed two feature films, Splinter being his full on debut and The Grudge 3 came later on. He has fashioned several award-winning short films. While I really enjoyed this movie it did feel like it as made up of several little films. The best factor is that Wilkins decided to go for the real actors as monsters rather than trying GC effects that would have ruined the movie as you really do need a massive budget to get that shit straight.This film doesn’t rip off The Thing (1982), but I feel it stems from that sorta story in the same was that Horror Express (1972) comes from the same novel Who goes There by John W Campbell (1938) for anyone who is wondering. It’s actually one of those deadly situations where we run into something so simple and basic that it kills us because we are in fact fleshy vulnerable creatures, and we need to be reminded of this now and again.

It’s a film for the more stronger stomached horror/gore fan, it’s not overly gruesome there is a lotta blood and with any infection film there is an amputation, sadly it’s not as funny as Død snø – Dead Snow (2009) or as brilliant as 30 Days of Night (2007) As an independent horror flick it definitely works well, there are a few questions and plot holes but what really worked for me is the creature itself and how it was created by bodies and not just a computer, puppetry and real models etc have always been close to my heart and it’s nice to know the art form isn’t dead… yet.

Rating: 7/10

R: Doom (2005), The Thing (1982), Ruins (2008), Horror Express (1972)
L: Selected Creature Features, Modern No CG horror Films, Couples on the run.
5s Shea Whigham

PD: POST DISCUSSION TO COME

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