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A.J. Hakari 04-20-2009 05:32 PM

Splinter (2008)

Forgive me for being wary about partaking in the Splinter Kool-Aid. Word of this horror movie's purported awesomeness had been spreading for a while before its release, though its true merit remained a tad dubious. It's no secret that horror churns out some of the crummiest movies ever on a consistent basis, so when something that's actually good comes along, the ensuing fan frenzy kicks the hype machine into overdrive. I hate to burst the bubble of any expectant gorehounds when I say that Splinter isn't anything you haven't already seen, but that doesn't mean this modest creature feature is any less worthy of popping in for a few good thrills.

Seth (Paulo Costanzo) and Polly (Jill Wagner) are a picture-perfect couple gearing up for an amorous weekend of camping under the stars. Their vacation plans are thwarted, however, when the two are taken hostage by fugitive Farell (Shea Whigham) and his coked-up gal pal (Rachel Kerbs). Another blow is dealt when their car overheats, forcing the pair and their captors to pull over at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. But little do they know that terror awaits, that a diabolical force of nature is about to make its grisly debut. It seems that some sort of weird parasite has been set free, a nasty little bugger that infects whatever living being it touches and takes them over from the inside out. As it turns out, the four have landed right in the middle of the hot zone, cornered in the gas station by the microscopic menace and left with little time to figure out how to combat it before they're infected next.

Splinter uses the perfect scenario for anyone looking to make a low-budget horror flick on the fly: human survivors inside, monster of the day outside. From Romero's Night of the Living Dead to as recently as The Mist, it's been the go-to means of minimizing cost while maximizing scares. It's tricky to pull off without coming across as lazy, but Splinter does pretty well for itself. The key to its success is that instead of over-exerting the premise, reaching for the stars when he doesn't have the resources to do so, director Toby Wilkins tailors the film to fit its simple set-up. The cast has but six actors to its name, the running time is a slim 82 minutes, and, most importantly, the antagonist is on a much smaller front than audiences are used to (though nonetheless creepy). Just the right touch of special effects wizardry is used to bring the parasite to life in all its icky glory. There are some big set pieces (the best of which sees Seth and Polly stalked by a severed hand), but Wilkins keeps them to a minimum. He doesn't make things big and flashy because he doesn't need to, striving to deliver an experience more lean and mean than cluttered and tiresome.

But for as earnest as Splinter's intentions are, it still can't avoid coming down with a case of the B-movie blues. I admire it cutting down on its length for the sake of being as quick and visceral as possible, but even at an hour plus change, Splinter's more cliched aspects tend to wear thin pretty fast. The actors, while not terrible by any means and in fact above average by horror movie standards, are still stuck going through the motions of their stereotypical characters. Costanzo is the nerdy nebbish, Wagner is the take-charge heroine, and Whigham is the bad boy with a troubled past that's supposed to excuse what a jerk he is (but really doesn't). All of this is nothing new, which is fine, but it does get a little dull watching this troupe fall prey to so many genre conventions in such a short amount of time. The film pretty much settles on the same repetitious routine of having the creature attack and the survivors retreating. There's not much excitement to be had here, save for the odd boneheaded decision (which no horror movie can be without) designed to lurch the plot forward.

Splinter is nothing earth-shattering, but it doesn't pretend to be. There's no grandiose social commentary to be had here, nor does it join the ranks of the all-time greatest screen shockers. Splinter is here to get in, have a bit of a monster mash, and get out, and while better films have been made with this approach, Wilkins and company don't do too shabby of a job themselves.

MY RATING: ** 1/2 (out of ****)

Horror 04-20-2009 06:14 PM

I agree, but I liked it a little bit better than you.

I would give it an 8 / 10 or a 3 / 4.

It's true the movie did not have much new going for it. However, the film had a great energy to it and sharp dialogue.

It's also true that it fell into the more cliched aspects of the genre often, though. Even then, I liked most of these characters, and did not want them to get killed.

A good n' mindless time waster.

A.J. Hakari 04-20-2009 06:23 PM

Yeah, I agree, it wasn't a terrible movie by any means. It didn't do anything spectacular, but it still had its entertaining moments and, on the whole, was well-done. Could've just as easily been an irritating ordeal, but the filmmakers had some fun and did the story just right.

Horror 04-20-2009 08:38 PM

Whoops, almost forgot....

Great review, too; as your other reviews are amazing, as well!

A.J. Hakari 04-21-2009 03:49 AM

Many thanks, man. Much appreciated. :cool:

TimurA 04-22-2009 02:53 AM

very strong review.

in your synopsis,you mentioned that they stopped at the gas station becouse of the overheat in the car,But if I am not mistaken the car had driven upon one of the infected creatures before the overheating :An important scene,which started everything in the film.Maybe the synopsis should have talked about it instead of overheating.

I agree with your excellent review totally


A.J. Hakari 04-22-2009 09:06 AM


Originally Posted by TimurA (Post 3022690)
very strong review.

in your synopsis,you mentioned that they stopped at the gas station becouse of the overheat in the car,But if I am not mistaken the car had driven upon one of the infected creatures before the overheating :An important scene,which started everything in the film.Maybe the synopsis should have talked about it instead of overheating.

I agree with your excellent review totally


Thanks, man. You are right, they did run over the infected animal at the beginning, but I just mentioned the overheating as the main reason they stopped at the station. :cool:

razgriz21 04-22-2009 09:12 AM

I enjoyed this movie and I got the DVD.

Really loved Jill Wagner in this.


FireCaptain4 04-24-2009 01:36 PM

I thought this movie was alright. When it wasn't freaky it was funny as hell!

It's like a 6/10 or something.

JivaFox 04-27-2009 09:10 AM

I enjoyed the premise and the monster itself was interesting, if a little passed over by the end of the film. The effects seemed a bit off in places, and some of it was more comical than frightening and I did feel that the constant jumpy editing seemed to dilute the tension during the action scenes. And also, there were far too many overly long "tense" sequences that just weren't tense at all. Overall I enjoyed it but it could really have gone a lot further. 5/10

nayland 04-27-2009 10:48 AM

I can't belive i watched it on the Sci Fi channel before it even cmae out on dvd.

Horror 05-03-2009 08:25 PM

Well I bought this film the other day and watched it a second time....

I am not one to say this often, but honestly, Splinter does not hold up as well on a second viewing. Once the first watch of the film is gone, it does not have as much to like the second time around-- the by-the-numbers approach sticks out like a sore thumb and does not pull you in as much, suspense wise, after you see it once. There is also not much in the way of true scares, as well.

I still like the film, and find it about average, but this is one of the first times in a long time that I have drastically rerated after seeing a film again after so soon.

First viewing: 8.0/ 10 (In 0.5 increments)

Second viewing: 5.0 / 10 (In 0.5 increments)

Reigh Kaufman 05-03-2009 08:34 PM

This film was a 'burn'. A 'burn' is an example of when I take JoBlo word of mouth too seriously and make a conscientious effort to see the film in question (cf: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon).

It's not a bad film, per se, but it is rated higher than it deserves to be, perhaps as horror has too few gems at the moment.

The villian/not a villain/sorta villain from Tigerland was just fine, if not exactly badass, but the boyfriend was a major loser and very distracting.

Effects were okay, clearly limited by the budget, but The Ruins - as imperfect as that was - told a similar story in a much better way.

Nature is a boring protagonist.


razgriz21 05-03-2009 08:59 PM

I'm glad I bought the DVD.

Still pretty good for a low budget horror movie.

The cast was great especially Jill Wagner.

ZMoney08 05-11-2009 12:22 AM


Originally Posted by Reigh Kaufman (Post 3030017)
but the boyfriend was a major loser and very distracting.

I totally agree with you there.

Other that that I thought the movie was pretty fun. I liked the creature but the movie did drag a bit and being limited to the one location didn't help that at all. All around a solid move. Nothing great but also not bad.


Der Todesking88 05-17-2009 09:34 PM

Another film i thought was excellent.I just bought the Bluray and DVD about 2 or 3 days ago. One of the better horror-sci-fi's films to come out in a while. Great read,well article in this month GOREZONE MAGAZINE.

8.5/10 *'s.

At first i thought it had a lot of plot holes,but after reading the article,the director explains it all.

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