Release Date: Oct. 31
Director: Toby Wilkins
Writer: Kai Barry, Ian Shorr, and Toby Wilkins
Cinematographer: Nelson Cragg
Starring: Shea Whigham, Paolo Costanzo, and Jill Wagner
Studio/Run Time: Magnet Releasing, 82 mins.
Splinter begins with a strong, though bordering on cliché, hook. Two (naturally, young) people driving from a campsite spot a woman in the road and are soon carjacked by her hick cohort. When forced to drive away, they hit and kill something monstrous in the road, quickly combining both the “something’s in the woods” theme with the less politically correct but frequently more frightening “rednecks are serial killers” concept. From here, though, the film becomes less interesting, as the cast ends up locked into a gas station, fighting to escape the monster.
If Splinter incorporates a
third type of horror film, it’s the zombie movie. Whenever the monster strikes someone with its
quills (which, incidentally, should’ve been the title for the movie: Quills), the victim becomes a creature as well. The film especially emulates the disembodied hand concept of Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, and with
some good reason. For how low-budget the
production clearly is, the design on the monster is inspired and doesn’t look
like anything else out there. This is
about the only aspect of Splinter that stands out, though, with little else
separating the film from its countless predecessors.
Toby Wilkins draws strong performances out of his cast, but with the constraints of the script, his actors are only slightly more memorable than the typical band of horror-movie victims. Likewise, actions sequences are coherent and well-conceived. It’s only Splinter’s contentment with wallowing in its genre that makes the feature a disappointment. While there’s a strong element of craft at work, its ambition is to be a typical monster movie based around a gas station. What separates it from its peers isn’t anything new or stunning, just that it lacks the egregious errors that plague so many second-tier horror movies.
At the end of its taut 82 minutes, Splinter feels less like an accomplished feature than a student film. Wilkins can be proud of how proficient the product is, but the lack of innovation is truly a downfall for movies like this. Fans hoping for a substantial work are left with no real statement or vision, while horror aficionados have already seen this film a dozen times before.
Watch the trailer for Splinter: