Splinter (2008) movie poster

(2008) dir. Toby Wilkins
viewed: 04/14/09

In horror films since 28 Days Later… (2002) (and before to an extent), diseases have evolved into super-diseases, running rampant, taking ebola and rabies to new heights (also recently noted: Quarantine (2008)).  Well, it makes sense, super diseases are scary and their effects of turning people into crazed zombie murderers have taken the genre through its latest fluctuations.

Molds are dangerous, right?  What about super-monster-molds?

Splinter, a horror film set at an isolated small town gas station, raises that question.  Not that the trailer actually tells you what the beastie is, simply showing its spiny splinters quivering and people getting infected.  But as the story goes, this spore system, which moves like the radical super-powered blood-thirsty infectees of the previously mentioned films, but the way it works is that in animates the corpses but in a bizzare, bone-breaking, gory fashion, flopping heat-seeking, and yes, thirsting for blood.

It’s kinda silly, but you know it could be scary.  Kinda like John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), a morphing, killer organism.  Of course, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is a top notch genre film.  Splinter is much less in all of the areas that make this genre interesting.  The script is pretty simple and characters pretty straightforward: horny college-educated young campers and white trash carjacking abductors.  While sticking to genre conventions can work, I think the film’s weakness is in the script, the direction and editing, and perhaps in the special effects.

The script is on the verge of silliness.  The creature (if it is a creature) doesn’t think, just lusts for blood and is attracted to anything above the 92 Farenheit temperature (?).  This spurs the victims to come up with a plan to ice down the college boy so that he’s so cold that the creature cannot detect him.  And the characters while they don’t say too many things that are laugh-out-loud funny, they’re just playing the roles like some community college production.

As for the editing and FX.  The “splinters” that quiver are part of the appealing effects, but either due to the limitations of the effects or just really bad filmmaking, much of the action is so confusing that you’re not really sure what is supposed to be happening.  When the white trash girl gets killed, it’s sort of unclear what has happened.  It’s sloppy.  In fact, the editing was even bothering me during the credit sequence, going back and forth between the first encounter with the creature and the first bloody death.  Oddly enough, I thought this scene had potential.  Because at this point, you don’t know what “splinter” is, and when it first gets the guy, it could be some mutated porcupine.  Now, that may sound even sillier than killer mold (or not), but I was intrigued.

Really, it’s a pretty weak film, almost really bad, but just not quite.

Maybe the sequel will be better.

(I’m joking).

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