Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Splinter
“You are suffering from a severe case of CDS: Can’t Do Shit!”
Jarv’s Rating: 2 1/2 Changs. Not bad at all.
This may not exactly come as a shock to anyone, but I fucking hate camping. Seriously, I can’t for the life of me imagine anything more miserable than the unmitigated horror of having to put up a fucking tent and then attempt to sleep in it. Even the shittiest hotel (and I’ve stayed in some shockers in America) is better than camping- simply because you don’t have to build the fucking room yourself. So therefore, I’ve got a pretty limited patience in movies when people go camping and bad shit happens to them: “Oh So you’ve been fucked by a mutant triceratops that’s just eaten your husbands head? Don’t care. It serves you right for going camping.”
In Splinter- which isn’t torture porn despite what that picture looks like- we follow the misadventures of Seth and Polly, who decided to go camping for their anniversary. Why? Why would you do this? Anniversaries are meant to involve the following things- for the man: Beer, Steak, possible blow job; for the woman: Flowers, expensive things, fancy dinner (ideally out, but if the man can cook then at home), back rub. They are not meant to involve traipsing out into the wilderness like a cretinous cunt wanting to forsake civilisation and then sleeping on the fucking ground. Seth, to his immense credit, doesn’t seem to be that into the whole wilderness idea, so is ecstatic to break the tent and force them to go to a motel. They get ambushed by a killer on the run and his junky girlfriend, before holing up in a petrol station while being terrorised by a pretty gross monster.
This is a completely unoriginal creature feature. There’s no 2 ways about it- it borrows heavily from The Thing for one, Evil Dead memorably, and the people trapped in remote location trying to survive theme isn’t exactly original either. So to judge how good this film is, it’s got to be judged on how effective it is. And this is a pretty effective little film. It’s gory and exciting, with the finale in particular working well.
It’s honestly all good fun- the special effects in particular are excellent, there’s a few decent shocks to be had and I find it very hard indeed to be rude about a little film like this. It’s cheap, sure, but it’s effective. It’s also ambitious- with the monster design in particular clearly having eaten up all the budget. Nevertheless, I feel it incumbent upon me to be rude about it.
Firstly, the casting sucks. Paul Costanzo is cast as Seth. The last place I saw him was in that execrable pile of dog poo, Joey, playing a geek. Before that I saw him in Road Trip, playing a geek. Here and I know this may come as a massive shock: he’s playing a geek. Christ on a moped, how unimaginative. He’s competent enough playing a geek- although he really fucking should be by now. It’s not a great performance, but it doesn’t suck at Satan’s unholy bung-hole either. His girlfriend is played by that bird from Blade the Series, Jill Wagner. She’s not in damsel in distress mode, but I’m kind of cross with the makers of this for not finding an excuse to get her top off. The monster is a blood based parasite- ergo, some blood spilt on the top and off it comes. Not to mention that they’re hiding out in the fridge at one point- this should be an opportunity for some Showgirls style frozen nipple action as well. Shea Whigham completes the trio as the killer on the run, and he’s servicable as well. You can’t really criticise this film in terms of acting. It’s competent, but little more.
However, you can (and I’m going to) criticise the film for writing. The script to this fucking stinks. Conti mentioned the other day on the Alien 3 review that one of the reasons he dislikes the film is that you can almost see the film-makers pushing the characters into place. Well, I’d recommend that he avoids this film. To begin with, the geek happens to be a post-grad Biologist. Handy in a situation with a new lifeform. Not to mention that the evil convict isn’t actually evil and he’s trying to give all his money to the widow of the guy he killed. We know this, because the film stops in the last third so they can tell us. I hate this shit- HE’S A CONVICT ON THE RUN, FUCKO’S, MAKE HIM SYMPATHETIC AND HEROIC THROUGH HIS ACTIONS. Also, the characters have the stupidity dial turned up to 11- “I know what will be a fucking good plan: we’re hiding in a petrol station, so lets start a fucking big fire”.
Having said that, the real draw of this film is the monster itself. It’s superb. It’s a big, ugly, hungry, spiky, mutant cocksucker of a monster. They clearly put a lot of thought into it’s design- both how it functions and what it looks like. They also clearly have seen lots of other cracking monster films and reference them all in this. There’s a nod to Leviathan in the way it consumes its victims, a nod to the Thing with the way it can detach and split up, but most brilliantly an extended homage to the Evil Dead with an evil hand terrorising the characters.
I really like this monster, and 2 of the 2 and a half changs are for it. I don’t however, like the way it takes over people- I must be getting squeamish in my old age, but watching people’s fingers spontaneously break and rearrange themselves is just a bit much for me.
Overall, would I recommend this film? Yes, definitely. It isn’t a fraction as good as the films it borrows from (but what is? they’re classics of the genre.) Although the beginning may be a bit slow, and they may deserve to die for going camping- this film has a fucking great monster in it, and we don’t get enough of them nowadays.
Until next time,