When I watch a kick ass little movie like Splinter (2008), I wonder why there's so much moaning and groaning about the state of modern horror. Yes, there's plenty of direct-to-DVD caca out there- not to mention the output from the major studios- but man, there's also gold in them thar whatevers. The genre is certainly riding an upswing, I've come to think, so I'm gonna stop my bitching. Things certainly aren't any worse than they were in, say, 1988. There are more remakes, sure, but the indie scene is thriving. So there.
A trashy couple carjacks a yuppie-ish couple, but they don't get far before an overheated radiator forces them off the road. They stop at a gas station/convenience store in the middle of nowhere, only to find the attendant has been turned into...something poky and deadly. There's a mysterious parasite on the loose that immediately transforms the hosts into splinter-laden abominations. Everyone holes up in the store and simply tries to survive the night.
If John Carpenter's The Thing had a baby with the baby that Romero's Night of the Living Dead and Zach Snyder's Dawn of the Dead had, then that baby would be Splinter. It's a tried-and-true formula- people must overcome their differences and work together to survive!- but somehow this creature feature feels as fresh as a blood-soaked daisy made out of fleshy bits.
It's almost a miracle when characters are actually more than just tolerable- in Splinter, the characters actually have small arcs, acting in ways you may not expect when you meet them early on. For once, the a-hole with the gun stops being an a-hole when the shit hits the fan. People really do work together as they try to figure out a way out of the mess- you know, like they might in real life.
Syfy Channel has wrapped their tentacles around this flick and they air it from time to time as a "Syfy Original"- if that's the only way you watch Splinter, however, you're really cheating yourself out of some killer effects. There's plenty of cringe-inducing goodness here, and the creature- when you can see it- is mind-blowing. I only wish you could see it a bit more; whenever there's an action sequence, we get "action cam", and it's too frenetic at times. It would've been nice if the monster(s) truly had their moment in the spotlight, when we could get a really good look at 'em.
Still, that's really my only complaint here- well, maybe that it was all over too quickly. Splinter's 80 minutes flew by, and the proceedings never dragged. It's just...a damn good movie. Yeah, they're making those now.