Now, lets talk about why I gave it this score before we proceed with the TL;DR portion.
Plot - 3
Nothing new or out of the box. People get trapped with a horrible creature until one side wins. Predatory Nature versus Civilization. It's a tale as old as time, but that doesn't mean the film shouldn't be praised for doing it at least properly. 3 seems nice and median.
Characters - 4
What can I say, i just think the personalities and the interactions between our four main heroes is great. I don't think these characters trail new paths, but the ones they walk feel like they fit like a glove. The acting was even more than passable to my, save for maybe one particularly portly female police officer. If these characters weren't so good, splinter wouldn't have held up in my oppinion.
Audience Retention - 4
This movie has an original creepy crawly with no biological remorse. We have four people we want to watch succeed. We have gore, great practical effects, even a very decent suspense sequence. If you're someone who can walk out on this movie, i really want to know why you did, because I can't see it.
Re-watch-ability - 3
Overall this movie is a very fun thrill ride of a story, one we've all heard before. But the director cast his shadow just right, and knew how to work with his board pieces well. I'd have no problem picking splinter over most movies of the horror genre in the modern age.
WAS IT ENTERTAINING = Yes
Now please understand, i believe every horror fan should see this film not because it is a shining beacon of talent and composure in an era distinctly lacking. This film has it's own level of flaws to be sure, but i'm not looking for a perfect movie. Indeed, I look at a horror flick and leave asking myself 'was i entertained'. And to make a long story short I found Splinter extremely entertaining.
And my first gold star awarded to Splinter, is it's characters.
Far too often am I plagued by horror movies that hold onto an old, broken tradition of giving us nothing but asshole young people to root for. Many people think this is a positive for a movie, and I will not argue with them. When speaking about the classics such as nightmare on elm street and Friday the 13th, it's almost excusable, but hopefully I speak for many when I say that I need characters I can feel more for than just glee at their untimely demise. There is without a doubt nothing that can ruin a movie for me more than consistent characters that I can't stand. Also, more than happy to source The Visit for this point. Could not stand anyone existing in that film.
Our four protagonists seem real. This is a positive to almost any format of horror related movie for it allows us to feel connected to a character, to empathize with them through a chilling and terrifying time which gives us that roller coaster feeling as the story shifts and mutates. When I saw the characters playing through this picture for the first time I was not rolling my eyes or wishing they'd shut up. In fact, the leading couple (a outdoorsy woman and a student going for his doctorate) seemed like individuals, as if I might go out and meet these people. And many might say that this is the basis of a decent film, you are correct. You would also be overlooking just how many horror titles have been released in recent years (some with amazing hype) that fail to accomplish these basics.
But thats another article.
With our leads being our woods-woman and our nerd-guy, we have two other leads to focus on. Convicts, none the less, who eventually trap our first couple and steal their car while kidnapping them. And with that leading premise you'd almost be certain that these people were going to be nothing but fodder for whatever critter comes a knockin'. Incorrect. In fact I'm a little surprised at our underdog sort of anti-hero that came to us in this buzz cut brooding country-bumpkin of a character. His writing and acting are not intricate, but the dual nature of a convict and a man who wishes to live simply both are apparent in this character, a dichotomy I don't usually see in horror nowadays. Too often we are left with single dimensions in our 'victims', and frankly I feel more for a burning cardboard cut out.
But we're missing our number 5. The thing that turns this from an outright character study into a horror film.
First, let me explain. Splinter's monster isn't necessarily a monster, but it is a life form, a system through which life lives. A mold, in other words, that sees body heat. The mold grows in long black shards or 'splinters' that stab into potential prey. and the moment you suffer a puncture from this creature, you're already exposed, and slowly the spores take over your body piece by piece in a very Evil Dead 2 fashion. In fact, i believe a particular scene of this movie to be a slight nod in Evil Dead’s direction. That scene in particular had some wonderful practical effects, and I'd recommend this movie just for that scene in some cases.
Now I come from an era that fostered Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. Killers of my time were hulking massive forces of nature that never had an off button, that could not be stopped by means we understand. Now we see many replications and attempts at making things that feel analogous to these masterful monsters in slashers over the last thirty years, but none surprised me as much as this one. Because without a body, without complicated sentience, and without thumbs, this creature feels more akin to the unstoppable Boogeyman of Halloween than any B movie slasher I've seen.
Let me explain.
Mike didn't talk, he didn't let you know his plan. He simply fell upon you like a storm and for those brief moments there was nothing existing in the universe with you. Just Mike, you, and that beautiful 12 inch butcher blade. And when you were dead, he simply moved on without a word. You became his everything for twelve seconds, and then nothing.
Now we have a mold. It sits quietly until a warm body enters its surroundings, and for that moment you are it's world. And nothing exists but you as it settles upon you and turns you, into it. Now unlike Mike, this creature has a very definite weakness, but we only discover it near the ass end of the picture. The protagonists suffer this thing with no ability to fight for it's majority, giving it that lovely 'force of nature' aspect I loved about Mike.
Oddly enough, without even trying, I find that this picture stands up to the legendary classic Halloween as far as it's killer better than many who have actually made an attempt to do the same thing in the past.
In closing, this horror film is a simplistic roller coaster that forgoes metallic loops and underground tunnels for long drops on rickety wooden rails. IE, this is a movie that succeeds by embracing the basics and doing them very well. If you have a free set of hours this weekend, i recommend doing yourself a favor and finding Splinter and formulating your own opinion. I'm willing to bet you'll walk away with a shiver in your shoulders.
Thank you all again for reading my short little look at Splinter. This wasn't an in depth look and indeed was more opinion oriented than anything. But I do think you'll enjoy this one guys. So go look for it. I found this movie on Shudder.com.