Review: Splinter (2008)

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Review by: Monkey Fist

SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★  

Splinter is a tale of not only survival but also facing the unknown. B-Grade horror films tend to be terrible because of budget problems and of course, poor acting. However, Splinter is rare in that it has a good story and doesn’t require a huge budget to pull it off. Instead of focusing on gore and blood, Splinter uses the idea of the unknown to build interest. In fact, it has that same feel to John Carpenter’s The Thing back in the early 80s. If there were more movies of this calibre then perhaps this genre would have more going for it. So forget the Final Destination series or the onslaught of Asian horror remakes, this is the kind of thriller you should be checking out!

A yuppie couple, Seth Belzer (Paulo Costanzo) and Polly Watt (Jill Wagner), have hopes of enjoying a quiet night in the wilderness so they can celebrate their anniversary. Unfortunately their camping experience will lead them not only into the hands of an escaped convict but also a non-human threat more dangerous and cruel than anything they’ve seen. After being unable to build a simple tent, both are taken hostage by convict Dennis Farell (Shea Whigham) and his meth addicted girlfriend Lacy (Rachel Kerbs). Driving with no clear direction, Seth and Polly can only listen to Dennis if they hope to survive the night. However their fortunes continue to deteriorate after they strike a mysterious creature on the road, damaging the car. Struggling to a nearby gas station they soon find out that the thing they hit is not a fuzzy woodland creature, but a spiked, slimy parasitic organism that absorbs and kills whatever it touches. The survivors barricade themselves in the gas station and try to remain “un-assimilated”!

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Splinter doesn’t go beyond a simple story of survival. Instead, it is about the reaction to the unknown. Dennis, Seth, and Polly respond as most humans probably would in that situation. What makes their characters interesting in that they are normal people. There is no major over-the-top plot twist to make them stand out. Their only goal is to survive the night. Unlike a number of B-flicks, the crude special effects work to Splinter’s advantage. The creature’s erratic and robotic movements and the use of quick cut editing truly add a creepy vibe to proceedings. The organism is very well realized and its characteristics can be viewed as an amalgamation of dozens of movie monsters: the slime of the Blob, the hunting practice of The Predator, the blood lust of the Werewolf, among others. Simply put, Splinter is an enjoyable ride, and definitely more original than most of the fright flicks that are slapped on our big screens yearly.

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About The Author

Monkey Fist’s fascination with film began in the late ‘70s when he was first introduced to B-classics such as 'The Car', 'Konga' and 'The Incredible Melting Man'. Life might have been very different if he had heeded his mom’s advice to read Enid Blyton novels instead. Seriously, he’s just glad he didn’t! Instead, a lot of time was spent checking out the latest flicks in local theaters or getting updates from the 'Movie News' mag. It wasn’t long before he delved into Japanese anime and Tokusatsu gems like Voltron, Gatchaman and Kamen Rider. Today, he continues exploring and collecting classics from the reel world!

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