Splinter (2008)

Splinter (2008)

It will get under your skin

A couple out on a camping trip realise that things aren’t working out, decide to call it quits and head for a hotel room. On their way to the nearest motel, they are hijacked by an escape convict and his sick girlfriend. They take the couple hostage in their car and drive off, hitting an animal which seems to be infected with some disease and has splinters sticking out of it. At the nearest gas station, they find one of the employees also has the same disease and has become some sort of deadly creature. The four of them become trapped inside the gas station as the creature attempts to infect them as well.


A quaint little independent horror outing, Splinter is one of those great films that does exactly what it sets out to do without setting the world on fire and garnering lots of media attention. It’s not a remake. It’s not a sequel. It’s not a spoof. It doesn’t try to be pretentious. It’s the kind of film that mainstream horror cinema is crying out for instead of the never ending recycled run of sequels, remakes and American versions of Asian horrors. Splinter has a decent concept, a small cast, a low budget, some creative talent behind the camera and above all, everyone involved looks like they actually wanted to make a good film for the love of the genre, not just to make a quick buck. With a cracking combination of ideas too, everything adds up to provide us with one of the unsung gems of the 00s.

With elements of The Thing, Night of the Living Dead and Cabin Fever amongst others all thrown in for good measure, Splinter is one of the most entertaining horror films I’ve seen for some time. The script is tight. It’s your typical scenario with characters barricading themselves inside from some outside threat and the gas station and adjoining convenience store may not make for the best of settings but it serves its purpose quite well and despite most of the film being set there, the location doesn’t get stale. It’s a decent location for creating a sense of isolation too – this is in the middle of nowhere so the characters are going to have to face the threat on their own. It’s also pacey enough to keep you interested and with a reasonably short running time of eighty-two minutes, just about every scene has a purpose and there’s little waste.

The characters are interesting and at least with such a small cast (there’s only six people in the entire film), they get fleshed out quite well. These characters aren’t stupid and react to the rapidly degenerating situation as normal people would do. They make rational decisions and use their intelligence and establish the facts of the situation to make logical choices on what to do. Besides which there’s not an annoying teenager in sight. The bad assed criminal (played wonderfully by Shea Whigham) is a great character, portraying menace and violence at first but you eventually get round to rooting for him and the other characters. In fact all of the main actors play their roles to perfection and the arcs that their characters go through from the start to the end are quite surprising. The script helps them immensely but no one hams it up, looks to go over-the-top or just phone it in. They all act as if this is real.

The film definitely earns plus points for not resorting to CGI for the weird creatures that come to life courtesy of the parasite. This is a make-up effects affair and they look top notch – it just shows you what a low budget and high creative flair can do in the right hands. The shots of the monster are quickly edited so that you can’t dwell upon it for too long to see obvious flaws and coupled with it’s jerky, disjointed movements, you get a threat that is unlike anything else you’ll have seen recently. The actual parasite is some bizarre little thing covered in splinters which it uses to infect its victim, taking over their bodies from the inside. Bones are broken. Flesh is eaten alive. Bodies are twisted into disgusting shapes. Seeing someone slowly succumb to this horrible death can be grimacing at times given that the bone crunching sounds are loud and in your face. You don’t just hear things snap, you see them snap!

No explanation is given for the creature and the only clue to its origins is given away right at the start as the characters drive past an experimental oil field. Given the black, oily-nature of the parasite, it’s clear to see where it came from. But we don’t really need to know that and neither do the characters. They just need to worry about how they are going to escape or kill it. The creature also has this uncanny method of attaching lots of infected bodies to itself so what you see moving around are various body parts from it’s victims, not to mention the odd animal or two. I can’t recall too many bizarre creatures that do something as gross as that but it works splendidly.


I have hardly got a bad word to say about this in all honesty. It’s not perfect but Splinter is a highly entertaining indie flick with enough scares, gore and suspense to satisfy horror fans. If you’re sick of the never ending drivel that comes out of Hollywood, check out Toby Wilkins’ excellent and highly memorable monster flick.





Post a comment