You know, I’ve already done two The Thing adjacent movies for Monster Week so far. Might as well keep on going with that for just a little bit more with a movie that I was somehow certain I had already seen and yet apparently hadn’t. We’ve done possessing body horror from beyond time and space, alien organism, and now what is most likely some kind of weird experiment.
Polly and Seth are attempting to go camping for their anniversary. Dennis and Lacey are an the run from the law and trying to get to Mexico. When they take Polly and Seth hostage, a tense situation turns into a terrifying fight for survival when they pull into a gas station that has had an infection that turns anything it infects into unwitting puppets in its need to feed. Trapped and alone, they will need to learn to trust each other if they have any hope of making it out of there alive and in control of themselves.
I like the take on the classic Thing-alike monster that this movie has. The splinters end up making you somewhere between a zombie and a flesh abomination. There are some really neat things that they can do with that, such as making individual parts capable of moving since it’s the splinters that are actually moving the body parts around. That aspect also means you get these great jerky, puppet-like movements from the infected even before they’ve died, which adds an entire other creepy layer to the body horror that the movie is already leaning into. There is a decent blend of CG and practical in the movie such that any time we are up close to something grotesque we get that visceral practical look but they can still do things that wouldn’t be possible with only practical.
I also enjoyed the reversal of traditional horror roles that we got in the characters of Polly and Seth. Polly is the outdoorsy one that can drive stick and change a tire while Seth is a PhD student that just wants to go to a hotel the second they have trouble with the tent. Dennis is also a fun character with the whole “outlaw with a heart of gold” thing going for him. The environment works wonders here as the gas station is small enough and remote enough to have that claustrophobic feeling that you want in a movie like this.
Splinter is unique enough while still having many recognizable parallels to other movies of this type. It’s got a variety of scares and doesn’t just rely on things jumping out at you. In all, definitely a great companion film if you want to have a “body horror” themed movie night.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5