I’ve seen my fair share of B-horror films. In fact, I might say there is nothing I like better than a good B-horror film. And Splinter was a pretty good one.
It has everything a good indie horror movie should have: hott babe(s), escaped convict(s), confined spaces, icky-blood-spattering villian/entity, and amputation. The story is simple: girl and boy go camping in the woods, they are hijacked by convicts, car starts falling apart and they stop at a gas station: Gross Parasitical Fungus!! The gang is caught inside the gas station as they fight for their lives against something that looks like a malformed porcupine.
It also doesn’t fail on the thematic side of horror. Though she shares the spotlight, there is a clear and kickass final girl who has to take over everything popularly deemed “manly” as her boyfriend is a book-reading nerd. The nerd, of course, redeems some of his manliness at the end (while also using his brain!) and the two walk into the sunset as equals. Then there is the convict who, obviously, turns out to have a heart of gold, proving, once again, that things aren’t always as they seem.
But, while using many of the same familiar tropes of horror, Splinter excels in its visuals, effects, and acting: three things that can really kill an indie-horror. I was especially impressed with Shea Whigham (All the Real Girls) who took a pretty conventional character and made him far less obvious. Shea, for example, is not disgusted by boyfriend’s sissiness, and is, instead, impressed by girlfriend’s strength of character. Visually, the movie takes an interesting angle to zombie imagery, and made even me squirm.