Flying way under the radar is Toby Wilkins’ SPINTER, which is a delightfully simplistic trip back to the ‘80s. The creature feature is loaded with blood, guts, gore, the perfect anti-hero and a hilariously fun plot, which is played straight until the very end. Wilkins never takes the story too seriously, but assures the audiences that the characters involved definitely are.
SPLINTER is set in and around a quiet gas station on a lonely freeway, where a terrifying virus-like monster inhabits the bodies of its victims and drives them with a relentless lust for blood. The virus monster twists the bodies of its prey into the shapes best suited to carry out its unrelenting desire to infect more victims and kill again.
This low budget monster movie is trickled with little juicy elements, that when combined, create one helluva a good time. Most importantly is the special FX, which are a mix between CGI and practical FX. During most of the creature shots, it looks as if there’s a real corpse on screen. We see limbs crack and break, corpses slam themselves into the glass, monsters tearing people apart, and even more shocking is the limb removal sequence. You might think that this was stolen directly from THE RUINS, when in fact this film was completely before RUINS ever went into production. When one of the character’s arms becomes infected, they’re forced to amputate, which is a brutal and uncomfortable moment highlighted by exquisite special FX.
While the concept is pretty damn cheesy, it’s still hard not to think, “This is actually kind of awesome.” Even the creatures in the film, which could have been a laughable mess, are menacing and creepy looking. The flaws are few and far between as there are a couple of moments loaded with heavy and unnecessary exposition. Over explaining what’s going on in the film can take the audience right out of the movie – or even make it instantly hammy. Luckily, Wilkins avoids this potential disaster and makes it through unharmed. Another minor flaw is Wilkins’ overuse of handheld camerawork. There are some moments where the film could have used a little focus and some time to breathe. Most of the movie is spent spinning around and swaying left and right, making it a little obnoxious at times. With that said, Wilkins does show that he’s masterful when using the handheld technique, which isn’t easy to pull off; it just needed to be toned down a bit.
Add to the mix a great score and sound design, alongside some beautiful DP work, and you’ve got yourself an extremely competent indie feature. Wilkins delivers a simple, yet effective ‘80s creature feature that’s not only scary, but also a great time. SPLINTER fits the mold of many classic films before it and is destined to become one of those movies you revisit frequently years down the line. If you have to lose an arm and a leg to see the film, I say go for it…