Horror Movie Review: Splinter (2008)

Splinter is an infection horror movie directed by Toby Wilkins and starring Shea Whigham, Paulo Costanzo, and Jill Wagner. The movie opens at a remote gas station where the attendant is attacked by some kind of rabid animal. After fighting off the creature, the attendant’s body begins to contort and snap as if he’s been infected by something. This opening is intense and through the use of shaky camera work we never quite see what is happening but through flashes we can see it is gruesome and terrifying.

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Elsewhere Seth (Paulo Costanzo) and Polly (Jill Wagner) are on a romantic camping trip when they come across escaped convict, Dennis (Shea Whigham), and his drug-addict girlfriend, Lacey (Rachel Kerbs).

The pair are trying to cross the border into Mexico and with their car having broken down they take Seth and Polly hostage. While driving they run over an animal that gives them a flat tire. Seth and Lacey check on the animal and discover it has some kind of sharp needles sticking out of it.

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While Polly is changing the tire, Dennis pricks his finger on one of the same spikes sticking out of the burst tire.

Continuing their journey, the foursome stop at the same gas-station from the start and find it abandoned. Lacey goes to the bathroom where she finds the infected body of the gas station attendant. It attacks her and kills her where-upon she reanimates and starts attacking the rest. They manage to fight her off and lock themselves inside the station. They’re safe for now but these creatures are fast, violent and not willing to stop!

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Splinter is like a cross between The Thing and Night of the Living Dead. It’s effectively scary and thanks to great characters, great acting and great effects it really leaves an impression.

The plot is simple enough and nothing we’ve not seen before; however, it’s told well and really smartly paced. Any lulls in action just serve to heighten the tension and like the characters, you’re constantly trying to work out how they can get out of this alive.

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It seems hopeless most of the time which just adds to the creature’s threat. Talking of which…using practical effects and make-up, the infected look positively fantastic. The way in which they move, the body contorting and the limbs snapping is very impressive.

The acting is great. A small cast means everyone gets their fair share of screen time and a chance to develop. The standout is Shea Whigham as a con with a much more interesting back-story then you might first think. He’s a surprisingly likeable character and that he is forced to team up with his hostages makes for a clever plot-twist.

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Short enough to not overstay its welcome. Normally shaky camera is something I would complain about but here it works to keep the limitations hidden. Splinter hides these by moving at a constant fast pace, leaving little room to breathe and splashing the blood and gore around with complete abandon.

A very entertaining horror film.

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Splinter
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