Friday, November 02, 2012


2008 ****

I watched Splinter the first time last month, but I knew I'd love it ever since I saw the trailer in the theater. Because it starts as one of my least favorite kinds of stories (hostage drama) and turned into one of my favorites (monster... the best kind of story).

Sure, sure, I don't like hostage or predicament movies because they're plausible and that takes me out of my comfort zone and that's something that makes good horror, yadda yadda yadda. That's been a brewing topic with my viewing habits over the years that I will have to tackle another day. The short version is that the hostage elements in Splinter are handled well and didn't annoy me. The interplay was well-acted and never overplayed, providing some neat moments. At one point the hostage boyfriend has the opportunity to run, but it would leave his girlfriend alone and him carless on a dark wooded road... you see him weighing the positives for a moment before his girlfriend yells him back to the vehicle. Later the hostage girlfriend and the kidnapper guy agree on a course of action and form a little micro-alliance. None of these nuances turn into loud indulgent fights, they never take over the action, they just add interesting tension. Just keep me interested, that's all I ask.

Because much like JPX's dislike of all things dysthymic (if you'll forgive me for being the second person to bring this up today), excessive arguing during crisis situations is my movie kryptonite. I blame this guy from Night of the Living Dead

I described him thusly: "Here comes charming Mr. Cooper, who before you can say howdya do is running around the house like a cracked-out gerbil calling everybody stupid."

The monster in Splinter is pretty damn cool, and the perfect kind of idea to make a small monster movie great. We're told nothing of its origin, save that it possibly emerged from land owned by the research arm of an oil company (thanks, rusty sign!) It's an agressive, invasive parasite that needs to inhabit a host to function. Once inside it grows black spikes through the host's skin -- one prick from a spike is enough to infect you. When enough host bodymass has been turned into parasite, it starts to use the host to move, but it isn't concerned with how the body is designed to move, and will blithely snap bones as it takes over. The result is monsters: lurching, deformed, bloody, spiky, voracious, fast monsters.

And one of those hyrbrid critters is a crawling hand! Yay! I love crawling hands. This one forgoes the usual crawling hand uselessness thanks to the creative movement philosophy I just mentioned plus the poison spikes.

One more detail that I liked: the baddie can run out of gas. Much like a real-life virus, the parasite can overtake the host body so it can no longer move. That's not a plot point, it's just a realistic, non-invincible touch that makes the monster's hunger make sense.

Cast with fun, believable characters who don't make stupid moves, Splinter is a kicking little movie with a black spiky bite.


Johnny Sweatpants said...

I'm shocked that you didn't mention the crawling hand! I haven't seen this yet but after reading the great reviews from you, Crystal and JPX I'm gonna prioritize it next year.

That picture of Mr. Cooper sent shivers up my spine. He was such an ASS.

Octopunk said...

Oh crap you're right! Where are my manners?

Okay, I just fixed it.

Catfreeek said...

Damn Mr. Cooper, I hate that guy! Outstanding review for an outstanding movie.

Landshark said...

You're so right about that bit of medical truth that amps up the desperation a bit. I started to mention something similar in my review of Berlin Undead, but it got late and I started to feel like I was overwriting, so I cut it.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

"Where are my manners?" LOL Octo.

DCD said...

Some year, when I really come through on all my intentions of being slightly Catfreeek-like and watching a bunch of movies, this one will definitely be on my list!