As far as zombie type movies go, the ever popular ‘reason’ we horror fans are frequently given is that there’s been this terrible plague that is re-animating the dead and so now they shamble the Earth, etc. This is all well and fine, but an occasional twist on this particular theme is definitely welcome, wouldn’t you say? The good news for Splinter is that it manages to use the disease angle in a new way that’s going to keep the audience’s interest and it’s clear to see why director Toby Wilkins got himself enough clout to direct the next film he ended up making: The Grudge 3. Wilkins definitely brings a lot to the table even on the comparatively small budget that was used to make Splinter.
The basic story here is that we have a couple out on a little road trip, headed for a camping trip in the charming backwoods of rural Oklahoma. From the start, we definitely get the sense that things could get weird, courtesy of the country bumpkin gas station attendant who gets attacked by what appears to be a rabid animal of some sort. The attendant doesn’t quite react the way we’d think someone bitten by a mere animal would. The couple is on their merry way, unaware of what just happened until they experience a car-jacking by an escaped convict and his girlfriend. When they end up hitting the expected flat tire, all four end up stranded at the exact same gas station where the rabid animal attacked. Eventually, we find out that this is no rabid animal, instead it is something strange and horrifying that is going to do a whole lot more than spread a disease.
In Splinter, we have what amounts to a very well made B horror movie. The main gold here is in the acting. Given that there are only six characters in total from the looks of it, this movie’s very well acted. The monster isn’t over explained and that lets the audience actually get to guess at what might happen next rather than fall into a predictable routine of guessing the entire film after the first 20 minutes of footage are shown. This is a rare treat no matter what the budget of the film is. The slimy sea urchin looking creature that serves as the primary source of infection is both inventive and scary which means that the movie does exactly what it’s supposed to be so well that you almost wish they’d had a higher budget to make the movie with since it turned out to such a high level of quality. There are as many slasher elements here as monster movie elements, a very nice combination that is definitely going to make one feel as if the horror genre still has plenty of room left to grow.
If you’re planning to catch a movie and you want to see something that hasn’t been beaten to death by endless previews in the theaters, then Splinter is a totally excellent choice. It’s a cut above those fun movies on the Sci Fi Channel and you’ll be glad you spent the time. Those who liked Slither should definitely give this movie a shot because it’s something different entirely, but keeps with that general vibe.
Low budget, but high quality. Splinter manages to do a lot with only a tiny portion of the budget its makers deserved.