31 Horror Films #9: Splinter 2008 Dir. Toby Wilkins

Last year I did a series of daily micro blogs going through the history of horror films by year. This was meant to give people an example of the high points of the genre. This year I'll be doing the same thing, but going off the beaten path to provide some films you may not have heard of. These films may not be up your alley, but they're all interesting.

Splinter 2008 Dir. Toby Wilkins

Horror goes in cycles. Every five to ten years we are treated to a retread in well worn terrors. Some of these reiterations are good, but for every Let the Right One In we might get two more unnecessary Lost Boys sequels. This flogging of dead horses often leaves people to wonder, where are the new monsters? While horror fans do enjoy a classic tale told freshly, we also enjoy originality. We enjoy seeing new ideas, characters and themes and we also like to expose ourselves to new horrors. It is this originality that brings me to Splinter, one of the most engaging horror films to come out in the previous decade.

When a young couple decide to forgo their camping trip, they are car-jacked by criminals on the run. Stopping to gas up, the foursome are attacked by a creature that looks like an amalgam of porcupine and human corpses. They later discover that this creature is an ancient plant that infects and absorbs its prey. The group must fight for survival, as the creature traps them inside the tiny service station. This simple premise lays the ground work for fantastic character moments, the young couple, Seth and Polly are characters that exhibit the opposite of archetypal horror traits. Seth is a scientist, not suited to traditional "manly" things, and Polly loves to camp and can drive a stick shift. These characters are developed early in the film and the differences get magnified when Farell, (an escaped convict) and his drug addled girlfriend catch up to them.

The early interactions between characters are compelling, and add volumes to the relationships which are then allowed to play out in high stress situations. The monster is inventive and fun to watch, but it's the reactions to the monster that is at the heart of Splinter.

More than anything you find yourself rooting for this unlikely group of people against this amorphous creature. We see a strong woman, an intelligent man, and an escaped convict willing to help those in need. You care for them, instead of waiting for them to die. This film has real urgency, something that is often missing in most modern horror films these days.

Watch the trailer HERE