I was digging thru my storage locker and found a box of screeners from the old Gutmunchers website days. Of the stuff the only one that jumped out at me was this movie, which is probably why they were in storage. I remember really digging Splinter and since it had been ten years, I thought it was time to take another look.
It opens at an isolated service station in the woods. There is a guy working and we see or at least it is implied that something horrible happens to him. Then the movie introduces us to two couples that are on a collision course. Blake and Polly are on a camping trip and have the misfortune of coming across Dennis and Lacey, criminals on the run from the law. There is a carjacking and the four of them end up at the gas station where things go very wrong. Something has come out of the woods looking for food and guess who is on the menu? The rest of the movie is them barricaded in the station trying to survive and keep out the thing lurking beyond the glass.
Occasionally I get asked what makes a good low budget horror movie and I try to explain my two big rules. First make sure that you have the locations and budget to shoot what you have in the script. Here this is a very simple plot with a limited cast on a single location for most of the duration. Already they are ahead of the game and are able to tell their story without the distractions of overreaching which always comes across poorly on screen. Second you have to get actors that can hold the audience’s attention. This is especially so when your creature spends much of the movie offscreen and the actors have to carry the movie. You can check that box as well as everyone in Splinter is great. These seem like real people in a totally screwed up situation that would freak anyone out, which is what happens. Without quality performances the bits with them in the station would have been boring, but instead they are highlights that make us care about the characters.
|The effects work is great
Being that this is a creature feature it is also important to have a good monster. I was annoyed that many of the attacks where we get to see the creature are shot with the shaky camera style that makes it hard to understand and see what is going on. When we do get to see the monster, it is horrifying. The reason this is called Splinter is because it is a colony or fungus that looks like little wooden splinters that poke you and then infect you with themselves. They consume you from the inside out while twisting your body and using you as their transportation to the next victim. This leads to some freaky bone snapping action that had me cringing and squirming in my seat even though it is only seen briefly on screen. There are a lot of scenes like that as well as someone getting torn in half and an arm getting removed with a box cutter. Splinter delivers the goods when it comes to gore and kills.
Why isn’t this a bigger movie? It is ten years old and no one talks about it that much, which is a damn shame. Great cast, good story, satisfying gore make for one of the better horror movies of the last twenty years. I recommend it and encourage you to go find a copy for yourself. It is worth the effort.
© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer