MOVIE: Splinter (2008)

This movie opens with a fairly typical horror movie scenario — a young couple embarks to the middle of nowhere in the woods for a camping trip, when, suddenly, everything goes dramatically wrong.  But while the set-up may be something we’ve seen a dozen times, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the direction this movie ultimately ended up going in.

The couple in question, Seth and Polly (Paulo Costanzo, currently playing goofy brother Evan on USA’s Royal Pains, and Jill Wagner), have driven out to the backwoods for a weekend of real roughing it.  Their plans are made a muck of, though, when they’re carjacked by an escaped convict named Dennis and his in-the-midst-of-drug-withdrawal girlfriend Lacey (Shea Whigham and Rachel Kerbs).  Driving around the back roads while Dennis and Lacey try to figure out their plan, the group hits something in the middle of the road that thrashes one of their tires.  When they get out to take a look and load up the spare, they find a dead animal in the road covered with all kinds of weird, super-sharp splinters.

As Dennis and Polly work on changing the tire, Seth and Lacey head over to the dead animal, which Lacey is convinced Seth can bring back to health (he’s a nerdy biology PhD).  Seth is less convinced of this, as are those of us in the audience NOT currently withdrawing from a heroin addiction.  But when the dead animal suddenly dies come back to life, and with an attitude to  boot!, the group hustles back into the car and races down the road.   They pull into a gas station a few miles down, and that’s when they finally meet their first human incarnation of the splinter entity.

The gas station attendant, infected by the splinter, attacks them immediately, creeping and creaking around with his joints all crackly and bent the wrong way and dozens of those terrible, horrible splinters jutting out from all over him.  The next thing you know, Lacey’s down as well, and our three survivors — the geeky Seth, the tough-but-pretty Polly, and the bad-ass-with-a-heart-of-gold Dennis — have found themselves trapped in a gas station trying to figure out how in the hell they are going to get out of there alive.

Through trial and error, they manage to figure out a few things about the entity they can use to try to beat it, but in the process, we’re treated to a solid hour of surprisingly effective suspense and some creature effects I have to say truly impressed me.

This is a thoroughly entertaining low-budget horror flick with a great sense of humor, characters that are a little stereotypical but still worth caring about, and a zippy tempo that keeps you at attention.  It’s not flawless, but it’s definitely a solid addition to the good-bad horror movie oeuvre.  Recommended!

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Genre:  Horror
Cast:  Paulo Costanzo, Jill Wagner, Rachel Kerbs, Shea Whigham


One Response to “MOVIE: Splinter (2008)”

  1. Liz Says:

    I saw this on TV – the “SciFi” Channel, before it turned into – ick – “Syfy”! I liked it fairly much, but I thought it was a made-for-TV movie, and therefore, somewhat – uh, shall we say, tame. I bet what I saw was edited for television – phooey! It was still pretty okay, though.

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