Splinter

"Excellent"

Splinter Review


Director Toby Wilkins' debut feature Splinter is a fast-paced, well-crafted bit of sci-fi horror with plenty of gore and thrills to keep audiences amped up and on-edge for much of its tight 85-minute running time. The title of Wilkins' film refers to the delivery method employed by its resident monster, a parasite that shoots splinters at its victims to infect them. All tangled limbs, snarling teeth, and contorted torso, the creature leaps, slithers, and growls with ferocious determination, and seems a descendent of John Carpenter's mutating menace in his remake of The Thing. While the monster's exact nature and cause are never fully explained, it hardly matters, because Wilkins, along with screenwriters Ian Shorr and Kai Barry, and a tight-knit, compelling cast keep us hooked, right out of the gate.

Wilkins posits Splinter's horrors in the backwoods of the American heartland where likeable couple -- bookish Seth (Paulo Costanzo) and outdoorsy Polly (Jill Wagner) find themselves on a camping trip with a broken tent. They ditch the camping idea, and set out in search of a motel to spend the night. En route, the two are ambushed by gun-wielding fugitive Dennis (Shea Whigham) and his strung-out girlfriend Lacey (Rachel Kerbs). The criminals hijack Seth, Polly, and their truck, and, driving on, pull over at the most unfortunate of gas stations. The creature has taken root here, having already "absorbed" both a dog and a hapless attendant, and now springs into action against the bewildered gang which retreats into the gas station's convenience store. Much of Splinter's action takes place here, behind the windows, aisles, and even the freezers of the store, as Seth and Polly form an uneasy alliance with Dennis, who's left sans girlfriend after Lacey meets a grisly fate, and together they try to outwit the primal terror.

With its walled-in, almost claustrophobic setting, Splinter echoes Night of the Living Dead, of course, and Frank Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist. Probably to offset his limited effects budget, Wilkins overloads his film with nervous, swishing close-ups, tight framings, and jittery cuts, the effect of which is disorienting at its worst, pulling us out of an otherwise absorbing narrative. He and his screenwriters make resourceful use of their setting, however, from the surveillance cameras, items on the shelves (lighter fluid, firecrackers, bags of ice -- lots of each), and the storage area behind the freezers, where the trio finds temporary haven, and where Seth performs a life-saving impromptu amputation on Dennis. The amputation is not for the weak of stomach, mind you, but it scores handily in earning our respect and sympathy for this gutsy, unlikely brand of characters. As Dennis, Whighham adds nuance and redemptive chutzpah to what is, at base, just another hardened criminal on the lam. In the end, we root for him, and also for Seth, who proves his mettle with on-the-fly intelligence, and Polly, who isn't just a pretty face here, but a quick-thinking action heroine every bit as hard-nosed as Dennis.

Splinter is a nifty example of the horror-movie as thrill ride. Plenty of them come and go, especially at this time of year, and most just meld together as by-the-numbers scream-fests with fill-in-the-blank monsters and stalkers. If luck holds, the low-budget, low profile Splinter will be spared the back bins of genre oblivion. It's too well-made and far too much fun not to deserve a place in the cult horror-movie canon.

Get the tweezers.



Splinter

Facts and Figures

Run time: 82 mins

In Theaters: Friday 3rd April 2009

Box Office Worldwide: $124.2 thousand

Budget: 82

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Pictures

Production compaines: Indion Entertainment Group

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Toby Wilkins

Producer: Kai Barry, Ted Kroeber

Starring: as Blake Sherman Jr., as Polly Watt, as Seth Belzer, as Dennis Farell, Rachel Kerbs as Lacey Belisle, Laurel Whitsett as Sheriff Terri Frankel

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.