(No longer in theaters)
Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Pictures
Oct 31, 2008
Splinter has a hackneyed gimmick—dead bodies trying to smash their way into an isolated convenience store—but I loved it to pieces: scuttling hands, marauding legs, spinning torsos. The source of the mayhem is a parasitic fungus that uses splinters (they’re more like quills) to puncture anything with blood in its veins; the bodies are reanimated, whatever their yuck-o condition. The English director, Toby Wilkins, has a long career in special effects and knows how to shoot them: tight, the victims’ bodies twisting furiously to avoid contact. The rest of the time, he has a visual sense of menace—the store, with its short aisles and sharp corners, becomes a terrifying obstacle course. Best of all, the film has real dramatic tension and a first-rate cast. It begins with a nerdy (but not too nerdy—see the last review) biologist (Paulo Costanzo) and his brainy-hotcha girlfriend getting carjacked by an escaped convict (the charismatic Shea Whigham) and his delusional drug-addicted girlfriend (Rachel Kerbs)—the threat is from without and within. The result, however clichéd, is spectacularly unnerving: hair-trigger horror.