Splinter (which should really have been called Prickles or possibly even just Spikes) is a killer disease type horror film. It begins at a gas station where the pump attendant is attacked by what appears to be a rabid ferret with a handy cam.
Hop forward to: our protagonists. Nympho and Nerd, a professional young couple who are off on a camping trip to celebrate their anniversary by having lots of sex under the stars. How touching. Hop forward again to: Mr and Mrs Trailer-Trash, he’s a thief and she’s a junky and they’re heading for Mexico in a stolen car. How touching. Clearly these two are not going to survive this film. Anyway, Mr and Mrs Trailer-Trash high-jack Nympho and Nerd’s car and hold them hostage. It becomes obvious pretty quickly that Mrs TT is not well and after they hit something spiky in the road, she starts flipping out over the road kill. Mr TT gets a spike in his finger, the road kill grows spikes as does the infected bit of flesh stuck to their tyre. Hmm…I wonder if spikes will play a pivotal role in this film?
Anyway, the happy little group continue on their merry way until they reach a familiar gas station which is abandoned. Dum dum dum!!! Mrs TT eagerly seeking somewhere to indulge in a bit of recreational drug use, finds a half dead man with spikes poking out of him, lying in a pool of his own blood on the toilet floor. Her response? “Oh excuse me, I didn’t see you there!” He asks the dopey twit to kill him before his body contorts with bone crunching violence and he lurches after her toward the forecourt. She is attacked and falls to the ground, seemingly dead while the other three are still trapped in the gas station. Mr TT is still playing Bonnie and Clyde until his Mrs starts flopping around by the petrol pumps like a fish on a beech.
Mr Trailer-Trash decides to go an try to retrieve his girlfriend. Nympho doesn’t want to allow him back inside but Nerd forces her and in the process a portion of Junky’s hand gets inside – which becomes spiky and starts moving around on its own and also feeds on blood. Nerd takes this opportunity to provide us with some techno-babble – as he is studying for a PhD in biology this enables him to make a few incredible deductions about the nature of this new organism. While this is happening the Junky is using her own head as a battering ram in an attempt to get inside.
The the world’s most stupid state trooper turns up and promptly gets deaded and we notice that Mr TT’s finger is going black. And a little later his fingers start dislocating themselves. He manages to hide this and Nympho and Nerd are preoccupied with trying to get the State-Trooper’s radio. This ends disastrously when during the attempt one of the Spikers tries to shove its hand through the night hatch. Nympho batters this off with a base ball bat…and then it come alive and attacks them. When they did this in Evil Dead it played for laughs. Here they are trying to be serious but I was pissing myself laughing as they are attacked by Cousin It’s evil twin.
The three end up trapped in the store room and Mr Trailer-Trash is clearly sick – his hand starts shooting spikes and his bones start snapping. So he decides he needs an amputation. Nerd tries to assist but his knife isn’t sharp enough, so in the end they lop it off with a breeze block. The pain, shock and blood-loss alone should have been enough to kill him but Mr TT is sat happily drinking beer and reminiscing with Nympho and Nerd about how happy he is that he kidnapped them and not some other douche bags. He’s a villain with a heart and he starts telling his life story. All he wanted was to look after the wife of the man he killed and to get Junky off the drugs once he got to Mexico.
Anyway, Nerd figures out that the spikes are attracted to heat, he freezes himself and heads out to the car. There’s a fair amount of tension in the final sequence and lots of explosions.
Well that’s the whole plot. The characters are tolerable if totally forgettable, Nympho is rather irritating and over characterised as strong-willed woman who can take car of her self. Nerd is nerdy and Mr Trailer-Trash is a villain with a heart. This film is trying much to hard to create a new creature – and the concept is interesting but hardly ground-breaking. The budget for this film was obviously pretty low but it’s still frustrating that you never get a proper look at the creatures. It would have been better if he film makers had followed the ‘show don’t tell’ rule of fiction – it did get annoying that Nerd kept pulling an explanation for why the spikes behaved as they did out of arse.
This film is resoundingly ok, totally forgettable, reasonably entertaining. But it really, really tries and much like Mr Trailer Trash, it’s heart is ultimately in the right place. But they’d have been better off selling the concept for the creatures to a TV show like Fringe rather than trying to string a feature length film out of it. And it would have been much cooler if they called this film Prickles: Attack of the Killer Hedgehog.