Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Horror Film Review

Splinter (2008): I've been meaning to see this one for quite a while and finally did. It's sort of a zombie flick, kind of a monster movie, but totally a nail-biter. And that's nearly unheard of these days. How did they pull it off with such a simple premise, six actors, and two set pieces? Beats the hell out of me. Maybe director Toby Wilkins was channeling Alfred Hitchcock, I don't know.

A couple on the run from the law run into a couple out on a camping trip, steal their truck at gunpoint, and force them to come along. Then they run over an animal. When they stop to check it out, they discover there's something seriously wrong. Spikes that look like porcupine quills are sticking out of it...and still moving even though the animal is quite dead. One of these spikes punctured the radiator and so on to the main set, the gas station. The gas station guy had a run in with one of the critters earlier and is dead but still walking around. It's pretty gross. So I'm thinking this is a parasite type of deal. I say thinking because you never really find out. And for once, I'm ok with being in the dark.

Most of the film is the good couple (tough woman, geeky man) and the bad guy trapped in the station while the bad guy's infected girlfriend prowls around outside. They have to work together to survive, so there's a redemption thing going on. I will admit there are some lapses in logic as far as what these folks do (and don't do), but you won't care. The suspense got so intense that I found myself squirming on more than one occasion. That hardly ever happens.


Acting:  First-rate throughout. Shea Whigham as Dennis (bad guy) is mesmerizing.
Story:   Simple, not entirely unique, but perfect horror fodder if done correctly.
Direction:   Done properly. You get this claustrophobic sensation while watching it. It reminded me of being in the jury room in 12 Angry Men, except with a blood-thirsty zombie/parasite.
Production Values:   The film has a gritty, realisitc look that doesn't skimp on quality. No cheating with CGI here.
Gore:   Yes, yes there is. There aren't buckets of it, but you will have occasion to either wince or involuntarity say, "ew."
Ending:   Pretty close to perfect, in my opinion. You may not agree if you're a fan of the nihilistic, fatalistic, "let's kill 'em all" endings. Deal with it.
Verdict:  Should you see Splinter? This one's easy. Yes, no question about it.

My Rating:  4 out of 5

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