Splinter stars a gifted young actress by the name of Jill Wagner, one of the bro-dudes from Road Trip, and a guy who kind of looks like Robert Carlyle. In the cold opening, a gas station attendant is attacked by what appears to be roadkill (A rat? A possum? A rabid squirrel?). Then we’re introduced to an attractive young couple who suck at camping and then a not-so attractive couple who are running from the law. Their paths cross in the middle of nowhere and the fugitives take the would-be campers hostage. But when the getaway car overheats, the four of them have to make a pit stop at the very gas station we saw in the beginning of the movie, which seems abandoned.
And that’s when things get predictably weird… just a little too predictable, in fact, which is one of the film’s few flaws. The writers even employ a nifty biologist character who makes huge leaps of logic and spouts a ton of technobabble nonsense. They don’t explain the origin of the monster, so why did they feel the need to explain how it functions on a cellular level? All I’m saying is I could have used a little more peer-reviewed research.
I certainly wouldn’t say this is a cheap-looking film, but it’s definitely the poor man’s version of Splice. Taking cues from John Carpenter’s The Thing, the creature effects are fantastic, if not fleeting, while the acting is, overall, much better than most of the stuff I feature here. In fact, my only complaint about the acting is it breaks down whenever the performers interact with the special effects. I think that’s more of a critique on the direction, than anything, as I have a hunch the actors had nothing physical to react to. Beyond that, the acting is phenomenal as far as horror movies go.
I don’t want to spoil what, exactly, is attacking the characters, but it’s sufficiently hideous and makes the title relevant. The thing traps the characters inside the gas station, which forces them to resort to desperate measures, some of which reminded me of the creative solutions in Tremors and Tremors 2. Unfortunately some of these solutions are a little too goofy for the film’s otherwise serious tone. I’m also reminded of The Blob and Jurassic Park, but I’ll let you discover why on your own.
I tend to dislike movies which try too hard to be creepy. This one certainly tries, but not too hard. It’s a good one for daytime viewing… not too loud, not too spacey, and not too boring. The sweet spot.