Greetings and salutations. I only recently came across this particular movie, and the synopsis seemed pretty simple, yet interesting. Looking into it further I noticed it won several awards at the Screamfest Horror Film Festival, so naturally my interest was piqued. So let’s dive in and see if it actually earned its accolades.
The movie begins during the credits at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. The station attendant is relaxing out front when he is attacked by a messy looking critter that comes out of the nearby woods. After the credits we are introduced to Polly and Blake, who have an anniversary. To celebrate they decide to go camping and spend some quality time under the stars. Unfortunately, they demonstrate their inexperience with roughing it by damaging their tent while trying to put it together. So they then decide to move their celebration to the nearest motel.
Meanwhile, criminals Dennis and Lacey’s car breaks down in the middle of a getaway, and are forced to walk. Luckily for them Polly and Blake spot Lacey on the road and pull over to see if they can help. Lacey and Dennis take them hostage and force them to drive them to their destination.
Not to long into the hijacking, Polly runs over an animal, causing a tire to blow out. While the tire is being replaced with a spare, Lacey and Blake walk over to the roadkill, where Blake notices unusual splinter-like growths on the animal. But when the animal begins to move on its own, Lacey and Blake retreat back to the car, where they take off once again.
After some more driving, there is yet another problem, as the car starts to overheat. They pull into the gas station from the beginning of the movie to get their vehicle fixed and gassed up. The attendant is nowhere to be seen at first, until Lacey discovers him in the washroom, covered in the strange splinter growths. Lacey tells Dennis, who thinks she’s stoned out of her trees. Then the former attendant appears from around the corner.
The attendant-thing gets shot a couple of times, to little effect, and during the initial shock Lacey falls and cracks her head on the concrete. Dennis, Polly and Blake lock themselves in the station. Dennis sees Lacey moving and goes out to bring her inside, but he discovers that she too is infected by this mystery infection. Now, with two of these things outside, the remaining three survivors must figure out a way to escape without becoming the next victims of the creatures.
This movie ended up depressing me a lot. Why? Is it the acting? No, everyone did the roles and line delivery just fine in my opinion. Was it the story? Also no, it wasn’t a complicated story, but it didn’t need to be. Everything worked itself out without having any complex ideas or sub-plots. Well then, what could possibly bring me down about this movie?
The damn camerawork. Sweet merciful shit. This movie has possibly the WORST camerawork outside of a found footage flick. In fact, I swear to you that there are many found footage movies with BETTER camerawork than “Splinter.” When something exciting happens, even the slightest bit exciting, the camera goes absolutely ape shit with its shaking. Not only that, but there were so many scenes that had an overdose of fast cuts to go along with the shaky cam, it was almost impossible to see what was happening. For shit’s sake, even during scenes of dialogue you’re hard pressed to find one where the camera isn’t moving around.
As well, there were a number of close up shots that I felt were just plain unnecessary. What’s interesting is that two of the awards this movie won is for “Best Special Effects” and “Best Makeup.” I’m uncertain how these awards were won when you could barely see anything going on well enough to appreciate that sort of thing.
Many people involved in making movies today seem to be forgetting that movies are primarily a visual experience. When you can’t see what the hell is going on during important parts of the movie, the movie is ruined no matter how well the script or the acting is. And that’s what is depressing about “Splinter.” It could have been something special, but instead it was a visual mess. If you’re going to watch this, I suggest you watch it in slow motion so you can see what’s happening. Otherwise, spare yourself the heartbreak and avoid it. Rest in peace.
Macabre Rating: 2 out of 5 tombstones.