Tight little (82 minute) lower budget horror flick taking place in one claustrophobic set? Check. Non-annoying characters exhibiting at least some growth and played by decent actors? Check. Hideous fungus/parasite beastie that zombifies its prey in really awful ways? Check. Equal amounts gory grossness and things that jump out causing me to watch a large portion of this movie through my fingers? Check. Dear Reader[s], I give you Splinter.
One young couple, heading home from a failed camping trip in the wilds of Oklahoma, is taken hostage by another couple, a violent ex-con and his tweaked-out girlfriend. Experiencing car trouble, they stop at a rural gas station, only to be trapped by zombies animated by the freaky, mindless Splinter-fungus-parasite. This beastie, displaying nasty black quills like a porcupine from Hell, infects living creatures, ripping them apart from the inside with the quills, and reanimating their broken bodies as it ceaselessly searches for more food. Our heroes are forced to use every resource available to them - and there's not much - to fight for their lives.
This movie is super-fun in a quite scary way. There's nothing extraneous - at no time did I wish for things to just move along. None of the four main characters are annoying (quite a feat for lowish budget horror movies) and both the men had arcs; the women were less well-developed character-wise, but as the acting and the dialogue was decent, I can live with that. The characters' actions and reactions to what was occurring around them were reasonable too - nothing to take you out of the movie with a "WTF?" The zombie/creatures are horrific: really, really freaky (all excellent practical effects - no CGI), and moving in extremely unsettling ways. There's plenty of blood and goo, but not too much, and multiple mobile amputations. And all sorts of things jump and twitch and flap, which I find the scariest. Great stuff, all told.
I remember seeing ads for this movie when it came out back in 2008 and thinking that while it looked good, there was no way I was going to see it in the theater because I didn't want to pay for a movie ticket and end up peeking through my fingers for most of the movie. My instincts were right on: Splinter is good, and I bet it's even better if you watch the entire screen for the whole movie.
7 hours ago