Splinter (film, 2009)
A film review from Death Ray #18.
Film: THREE STARS
Director: Toby Wilkins
Writers: Kai Barry, Ian Shorr, Toby Wilkins
Starring: Shea Whigham, Paulo Costanzo, Jill Wagner, Rachel Kerbs
Not shards of wood, but a thorny malevolent mould from the deep, deep forest.
Independent filmmaking is where it is at in horror. All the best horror movies are made by eager young chaps with a desire to scare and a will to get it done right. It’s been that way since Dawn of the Dead. Splinter follows in this noble tradition, it’s not as good as the very best, like the Descent, say, but it’s near the top of the curve.
Seth (Paulo Constanzo) and Polly (Jill Wagner) are an unlikely couple, she’s an outdoors-loving gal who can change a tyre, he’s a biology nerd who appears practically helpless. They’re hijacked by a Dennis (Shea Whigham), a con on the run and his junkie girlfriend. After running over a mysterious creature, they find themselves trapped in a petrol station by a weird parastic organism that feeds off blood and uses living creatures as hosts. It’s nothing new (we’ve even had evil, parasitic plants recently in The Ruins) but does well in directorial, story and performance terms. Seth the nerd provides just enough exposition, the con is not quite what he seems and all of them have skills and attributes which are at least a little surprising. Director Toby Wilkins wrings plenty of suspense and scares out of his limited set, and good performances from his cast. The monster is imaginatively realised, and is never on screen long enough for you to laugh at it. Only a few, lingering seconds on a crap raccoon spoil the movie (incidentally, the only time we see a ‘splinter’ possessed creature in full daylight). It’s bad that this comes right at the start of the film, because it almost derails the venture before it’s out of the gate. Otherwise, a fine Saturday evening’s scare