July 8, 2015

Movie Review: Splinter (2008)

There was this movie I wanted to see a few years back, but never did. I remember seeing trailers for it in theaters, but it never came. Not around my neck of the woods, anyway. Over time I forgot about it and the desire to see it all but disappeared, since I did not remember anything about it. Well, it turns out the movie was Splinter and my chance and desire to see it returned as I found it streaming on a new horror movie service. So, I clicked on the play button and watched this little horror movie, and guess what? I liked it! No, it is nothing particularly revolutionary, but it is quite entertaining and nicely executed.

Splinter was released in 2008 and was directed by Toby Wilkins, who has also directed the sub-par The Grudge 3. He also has worked on many films as a visual effects artist. Screenplay duties were handled by Ian Shorr and Kai Barry. They have successfully come together and crafted a movie with genuine tension and feels worthy of becoming invested in despite the familiarity of the exercise.

The movie introduces us to a couple, Polly (Jill Wagner) and Seth (Paolo Costanzo), celebrating their anniversary by going camping. They are all set for a good time until a tent mishap sends them packing back to town. Before they get there, they come across a frightened looking woman, they stop to help and are ambushed by her thug of a boyfriend. Together, the four drive to a nearby, and isolated, gas station.

It is here that everything begins to go down. The attendant was attacked at the movie's outset by some sort of woodland creature, a creature infected with something. By the time the foursome arrive, the attendant is being turned into some sort of spiky monster thing that attacks anything that is living and in the vicinity.

Splinter reminds me a little bit of The Ruins blended with touches of Evil Dead. This is nicely executed survival horror. Sure, you get the expected blend of personality types, the requisite teaming up of enemies against a deadlier for, and the usual lock the door, what are we going to do, I got an idea threads. I don't think there really is anything terribly original, except maybe the creature. Now, the creature was pretty cool, being described as a sort of fungus or mold, it was nasty and mean, and something I had not seen before. Yes, it is mostly obscured in quick cuts and shaky cam, but they knew they were working on a budget, and it works.

This is a solid film that is tense, nicely built, and makes sense. Will I remember it in the long term? I tend to think not, but that does not take away from the entertainment that it delivered in the moment. There are a lot of films like this, to make it work should be considered an accomplishment. It is surprisingly well acted, has nicely done effects, and delivers the horror goods.


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