Thursday, November 12, 2009

splinter [2008]

yesterday after dragging my lobster thru midtown which exhausted him and exasperated me i returned home, hung up the leash, and popped in the disc of this flick. i'd read some good stuff about it so why not give it a go. sure there are better ways to waste 82 minutes of my life, but there are worse ways too.

the premise is this: a young couple, nerd boy and phd candidate seth and his tough, pragmatic yet dewy-eyed girlfriend polly, want to spend a night camping under the stars in the backwoods of oklahoma. seth couldn't slice bread if a gun was held to his head, and later a gun is indeed held to his head, and his inability to slice bread nearly exhausts its welcome, as he fucks up the couple's tent. in lieu of sleeping in a torn tent they decide to forgo a romantic night of sex under the night sky, pack up their suv, and head down the road looking for a motel.

meanwhile ex-con dennis' and his junkie mole lacey's truck breaks down in the same section of hell as our young couple. dennis is hardcore, has a gun and decides to carjack seth and polly. dennis is a mean sumbitch and his body movements with the gun appear almost balletic as the man contains just a weird amount of physical grace. lacey is nearly psychotic as she goes thru heroin withdrawals.

in the midst of all this a mysterious but blood-thirsty parasite is on the prowl. the film opens with a bang as the owner of a gas station tries to get the lowdown of some strange noises emanating from the grass on the edge of the station. needless to say the owner gets chomped to death by some thing.

you can tell where this movie is going. after running over said thing and getting a flat dennis gets one of those titular splinters stuck in his forefinger. that spells trouble for the whippersnapper down the line. polly changes the tire because seth doesn't know how even when a gun is put to his head. the splinters also punctured the radiator and coolant flows like it was blood in a horror film. guess where our heroes end up? that's right, the gas station!

lacey is the first to go. seth turns out to be not so useless after all because he's book smart see and he figures out what those parasites might be. dennis is hardcore but he's got a big heart and a code of honor that would make any cowboy proud while polly is simultaneously pragmatic and dewy-eyed. not bad for a chamber piece. the director toby wilkins knows how to get the most bang out of his small budget and tiny cast.

there's gore enough and the cast members are believable. none of the usual cliched types of characters found in most horror movies. the action is fast and the movie is at 82 minutes nicely compressed to keep the tension taut. i was muy impressed even if i thought i'd seen the plot done before. there's no pomo'd self-ironizing here, what wilkins achieves is a straight horror flick that was refreshing for it being so redolent of old monster movies and survivor-types holed up against the nightmares outside, a la romero's groundbreaking night of the living dead. i want more of these flicks please and fewer hostels and saws. what do i have to do now, write a letter to sandy claws?!

blog tip of the week

final girl
horror journalist stacie ponder's reviews and musings over all things horror are hilarious, snarky and brilliant. check it and get hooked.


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