A romantic camping trip goes awry when a couple is car jacked and held hostage by a dangerous criminal and his strung out girlfriend as they attempt to evade the law. The situation gets worse for them once they find themselves trapped in a gas station with a gruesome monster standing between them and safety.
What I liked:
The acting in this was solid all around. Dennis, the carjacker, was the best acted character in my opinion, while Polly and her boyfriend Seth were solid as well. I usually gripe about characters being dumbed down to make things interesting but what I liked about this movie was that they established early on that Seth was a coward, he was more interested in science than anything else and it played into his choices he made in the movie.
For instance, there was a scene where Dennis is outside of the gas station trying to retrieve his girlfriends corpse because he thinks she’s still alive. Polly justly wanted to lock him out and just leave him for dead. This guy kidnapped them at gunpoint, hit Polly, and threatened to kill them at several points and they had no idea whether he would go through with it or not, especially after his girlfriend was killed. Meanwhile, Seth is yelling at Polly to let the guy back into the gas station because he’s afraid the guy will shoot them through the glass even though they could just hide behind something. Theres also another scene where the creatures severed arm is smashed but Seth uncovers it so that he can study it, when it’s still a threat to them all, as getting stuck by a single spike is enough to turn an entire person.
I was a big fan of the creature effects in this. Practical effects made the creatures look gory, horrific, and real. This was pure body horror and it was great. The creature is some kind of slime mold that infects animals and kills them while using their corpse as a zombie to attack and infect others. The coolest part came when the creature would absorb other creatures into its current host. You’d have this massive creature covered in blood with black spikes jutting out of it everywhere and it’d look like a person with another person randomly mixed in. Also, despite being in a human host, the creature didn’t move like a human at all. It sort of moved around on all fours like an agitated animal and it looked great. At points in the movie it’s even capable of ripping off some of its limbs which still function as normal and try to attack people. It was like looking at Thing from the Addams Family, only its covered in blood and has black spikes protruding from it.
What I didn’t like:
For all the trouble the production crew went through for their amazing creature effects, it was ruined by the horrible camera work. I can tell that the creature looked amazing from the clear glimpses of it that are visible. The sad part is, whenever the creature was attacking someone the camera would be all over the place to the point where it was too difficult to tell what was even happening on-screen. There would also be way too many cuts during this time, I counted over thirty in a short scene lasting less than fifteen seconds. For the movie to have such good creature design, only to ruin it with bad camera work is really disappointing. My guess is that it had to be budgetary reasons that they couldn’t show the creature as clearly as possible.
Aside from Seth’s stupid decisions that fit in with his character, the movie did fall back on some common horror tropes such as cops being useless, and it was kind of hilarious as a result. At one point when everyone is stuck in the gas station they hear the creature that used to be Dennis’s girlfriend on the roof of the building trying to find a way in. While tracking it through the building they come to the front door and find that there’s a cop there with her gun drawn yelling at Dennis that she’s going to take him in and that Polly and Seth are finally safe. So for a minute or so, this cop stays outside the locked door with her gun pointed at Dennis, telling him that he’s going to jail. Meanwhile Polly and Seth are yelling at her that she isn’t safe and she should get back into her car. No one offered to unlock the doors and let her into the building for some reason, I mean if she was planning on arresting Dennis she’d have to enter at some point or have him come out to her. She attempts to radio for help at the insistence of Polly and Seth and is unable to get a response. Still continuing to stand in the same spot and do nothing she’s attacked by the creature and killed. The thing splits her in two and absorbs her top half, making her a part of it. It was hilarious because within a second of her showing up on-screen I could already tell she was gonna die. Why is it that cops never listen to what people are warning them of in horror movies? Even if she didn’t believe them that there was something outside with her, would it have hurt her to try to enter the building?
Overall I was surprised that I liked Splinter. It was a made for TV movie and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those that I liked. Splinter had a good plot, the acting was good, and the effects were great. Unfortunately I felt cheated by the camera work. This is a monster movie and they were stingy with the monster. This was sadly a movie with great potential that had it ruined by something easily fixable.