Hey, remember that scene in The Thing where Kurt Russell has to slice the finger of each of his coworkers for a blood test in order to determine which one of them is The Thing?   Remember that scene in Evil Dead 2 where Bruce Campbell has to lop off his own hand and then the evil possessed hand returns to torment the rest of him?  Do you have a good time with that level of queasiness and cringe factor and nasty humor?


Then let me recommend Splinter, a recent horror flick still in limited release.


The set-up:  After their camping trip ends prematurely due to a malfunctioning tent, a young couple hits the road to find a motel.  They’re hijacked by a criminal and his cracked-out girlfriend.  So that couple takes the other couple hostage, we’re in a crime movie, then all of a sudden the car rolls over a dog.  Or a porcupine.  Or something.  Something angry.  They head to a gas station to regroup, only to find that something (a something related to the something they ran over) has invaded.  Bad, ugly things proceed to happen.


I liked this movie for very simple reasons, although such simplicity is very difficult to properly achieve in a horror movie:


o       The suspense works.  The characters have to quickly think and act their way through a series of set-pieces as they are besieged by an undefinable creature, and though I’ve seen this kind of set-up so many times before, I still couldn’t say for sure how it’d end up.


o       I liked the lead couple and I wanted to see them survive until the end of the movie.  I believed that these two would be in a relationship; they complement each other’s personalities and abilities.  Some might say that because she’s ridiculously beautiful and he kind of isn’t, they wouldn’t ever even date, but once you hit the age of say, 27, you’ll see how real-world couples are based off more than that basis.  But that’s a rant for another day.  It’s solid casting, and hey, the criminal character is also really great in the movie.  Guy’s name is Shea Whigham, and he brings an entertaining, wackadoo, Bill Pullman kind of energy to the role.


o       The creature concept is awesome and original, and the latter adjective is especially rare in horror movies.  I don’t want to reveal a thing, except that the monster is a good idea, one that I don’t remember seeing on film before, and I wanted to see more of it.  (One criticism of the movie is that it leans way too hard on the Steadicam, still unfortunately way too en vogue, when instead it’d be more satisfying to eventually parcel out more money shots of the creature than we ultimately get.)  The creature is creepy, gross, and believably lethal – even that aforementioned evil hand becomes intimidating.


o       It was short.  Arguably even too short.  But I respect a movie that knows what it is.  Gets in there, thrills and chills ya, then rolls credits.  It ain’t Flags Of Our Fathers.  It’s Splinter.  Just about right,



In a just world, a fun horror trip like this one would get the nationwide release that a Saw #54 would receive.  Then again, America just got a youthful, forward-thinking, multiracial president with great taste in music, after more than two hundred years of lily-white.  So the whole “life is unfair” argument loses just a little traction.


Still and all, Splinter’s a solid outing, and you’ll probably have fun with it if you’ve bothered to read this far.


More information (and showtimes) can be found at the official site: