A Playground for Authors Jason White and Michael Schutz-Ryan

Splinter (2008)

splinter-posterDirector: Toby Wilkins

Staring: Shea WhighamJill WagnerPaulo Costanzo

Splinter, I have to say, was a pleasant surprise. Good monster movies are hard to find today. Don’t get me wrong, there are a decent amount of good horror movies coming out these days, what with James Wan and crew continuously producing creepy ghost and possession movies, amongst others, but monster movies have become a rare commodity. I love a good monster movie, John Carpenter’s The Thing being one of my first and still a favourite today. And speaking of The Thing …

Splinter, from 2008, has a lot to owe The Thing. It’s about a fungus that, when even a sliver of it stabs into your skin, it slowly takes you, its victim, over and turns you into what it wants.

This can result into some seriously painful situations for our poor victims as some succumb to this violently aggressive fungus. Which makes this movie fun and, sometimes, hard to watch.

No movie, however, is perfect, and there certainly are some flaws with this one. Nothing severe enough to take you out of the experience too far and make you question why you’re watching this piece of crap. No, and that’s because Splinter is far from a piece of crap. The problems that arise are probably result of time and budget constraints. But who knows. Maybe I’m just full of myself, blowing hot air out my mouth.

We start the movie with a young couple on a supposed camping trip. Polly and Seth at least try to make the trip a success, but Seth botches it with his tent pitching ineptitude (there’s no puns there). Considering his knowledge of forestry, as we soon learn while they head off looking for a motel to stay at for the night, one has to wonder if Seth didn’t botch it up on purpose … Yeah, Seth. I went there!

Anyhoo, Along the highway they come across what is seemingly a woman in need of help. She jumps out onto the road at them, looking all sick and despondent. It would be anyone’s moral obligation to stop and help her, right?

Enter Lacey and Dennis. Two individuals, another couple it seems, on the run. Now, all this happens within the first ten minutes, so I don’t think I’m ruining anything. Dennis, who’s clearly in charge, highjacks Polly’s vehicle and they head off down the road of despair.

Night comes and Polly runs over some sort of creature, causing their rear tire to blow. It’s at this point we find out that, yes, Lacey, Dennis’s girlfriend, is not only sick with drug withdrawal, but she’s clearly out of her skull. She thinks that they ran over her dog, which never existed in the viewers eyes and even Dennis is like, “The dog died a long time ago.”

Seth and Lacey investigate the road kill while Dennis and Polly work on changing the ruined tire. There’s something … different with whatever it was they ran over. There’s spikes all over it, something like a porcupine, but smaller and somehow deadlier. What they don’t know is that those very spikes knocked out their antifreeze, and so once they’re back on the road, the engine soon overheats.

Thankfully, there’s a gas station close by, and so they stop.

This is where things go from bad to worse real quick. Gas Station attendant afflicted with the splinter fungus   They quickly find that there’s nobody behind the till at this gas station, and then learn as to exactly what has happen to the poor bastard. When Lacey heads to the restroom, she runs into our poor gas jockey, who apparently has a serious fungal disease. It’s so bad, in fact, that his last words are, “Kill me.”

That’s where I’m going to leave the story. Obviously, the movie becomes a sort of isolated invasion where our characters are stuck in the gas station convenience store, fending off the monster and trying to survive.

Picture of Splinter's monster Over all, it’s a fun ride. The acting, up to a certain point, is top notch, and the monster… Well, the monster is one part that I had a problem with. You can tell by the short glimpses you get that the monster is indeed well done, but we don’t ever get a good look at what, exactly, this creature looks like as it gathers and joins its victims’ corpses into one, horrid-looking … thing.

I wanted that closer look, but we don’t get it until the end. And when we do get it, it looks like cheap computer graphics. And, technically, it’s still not a clear shot. The picture to the right here is one of the quick, sudden pictures that we do get. But the picture moves too quickly for us to get a solid view.

The acting, as mentioned, is really well-done. Also mention, it’s really well-done to a point. Somewher close to the end the acting sort of takes a backseat to the monster  and its desire to consume, or assimilate (however you at it) our characters. I really don’t want to say the part that bothered me most, because it will give away part of the movie that is fun and cringe-worthy to watch, despite the sudden change of acting skills.

Perhaps this part of the movie was rushed?

Whatever. It’s not important. What is important is that Splinter is a capable, well-done horror monster movie. If you’re a fan of this genre, you owe it to yourself to give it a look. It’s got some really gory moments with horrific scenes that will probably follow you for the rest of your days.

I therefor award Splinter 3.5 CHUD-Dwellers out of five, rounded up to four to save embarrassing myself with my photoshopping skills.

 

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shea-whigham-in-splinter-(2008)

 

 

 

 

 

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