Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Paulo Costanzo, Shea Whigham, Jill Wagner, Rachel Kerbs
Directed by Toby Wilkins
Distributed by Magnolia Home Entertainment
In a horror landscape that is densely populated by slasher knock-offs, remakes, PG-13 rated chills, tweener vamp epics, and sequels that nobody wants, I often find myself wondering … “Where have all the monster movies gone?” Thankfully one has crept out of the old proverbial crypt in the fashion of a little film called Splinter.
Things we’re going just fine for our happy couple Seth and Polly (Costanzo and Wagner). The twosome were all set to spend a romantic weekend in the woods when all of a sudden they’re carjacked by an escaped convict named Dennis (Whigham) and his girlfriend Lacey (Kerbs). If that’s not bad enough, everyone then ends up being stalked by an unknown organism with one hell of a blood lust. With nowhere else to turn our unlikely protagonists find themselves holed up in a gas station out in the middle of nowhere. Can they find a way to work together as a means to survive the night, or will they end up nothing more than meat for the beast?
That’s the set-up, and truth be told it’s fairly simple. Even better it doesn’t have to be any more than that to be a good time. Director Toby Wilkins was not out to reinvent the monster movie wheel with this flick, but he does a hell of a lot to keep it rolling. Splinter is the kind of horror movie that at first seems more like a crime thriller. When the supernatural elements come out of left field, they kick you right in the ass and make you sit up and take notice.
Special kudos go out to everyone involved with how the creature itself is handled. You see, the monster here uses the human body as a host. Now we’ve all seen hundreds of movies like that in which a creature takes over a human, and then all of a sudden said human becomes a fast moving killing machine. Not here. Here this parasite doesn’t understand the human body and how it’s supposed to move or function. It’s clumsy, trying desperately to move in the most efficient ways possible. As a result a Splinter creature twists, turns, and bends its hosts in some of the most horrifyingly unnatural and painful ways possible. It’s ghastly. It’s disturbing. It fucking works, man!
My main complaints about Splinter are minor. For one thing the editing is just a bit too frantic at times. You have a cool beastie doing psychotic shit. PLEASE HOLD THE CAMERA STILL SO I CAN DIG IT FOR MORE THAN A NANOSECOND. Filmmakers really need to settle down with this technique. It doesn’t always create the feeling of chaos. Sometimes it just gets annoying. It wasn’t too bad here, but still — I wanna see the carnage, man! Every glorious frame of it! There was also one scene involving a way too tenacious police officer that had me rolling my eyes, but in the end you won’t find yourself too distracted from having a good time with Splinter.
Things kick off with two commentary tracks — one with Wilkins and the three stars and the other with Wilkins and the crew. To my surprise neither track repeats itself too much, and in the end both are highly enjoyable and engaging.
From there we get six featurettes that run about five minutes each. Always informative and fun, these slices of supplemental goodness cover everything from the usual making-of stuff to how F/X pyrotechnician Pat Henderson, affectionately known as “The Wizard,” used his Green Beret training for when it was time to blow things up to instructions on how to properly carve a Splinter pumpkin! Add on a creature concept art gallery and an interview/look at the film with Wilkins from HDNet, and we are done. Even though most things were on the short side, going through this Blu-ray was a blast!
Splinter plays like a breath of fresh air. It’s a fun, fast paced monster mash that’s all but guaranteed to find an audience by word of mouth. Do your part. Spread the word that there’s a new ravenous monster cutting itself a path of bloodshed and destruction. If we’re lucky maybe Wilkins himself will grace us with a sequel that fans actually will want!
4 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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