Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Splinter (2 out 5)

I kinda gave up on modern horror films a long time ago. I guess I used to be easier to please. When I was younger it was simply a case of "the gorier, the better", but as I've gotten older the gore seems to have lost much of its previous appeal. Yesterday I had a couple of free tickets for Splinter at The Prince Charles Cinema off Leicester Square and I had nothing better to do, so I went. I guess the film was better than I expected it to be, but that doesn't really say much, since I was expecting to walk out half-way through. But, I stayed for the whole 82 minutes, since the film actually turned out to be vaguely entertaining.

Seth and Polly are a beautiful young couple and intent on celebrating their anniversary by going camping. When they are unable to get their tent up they pack up and start looking for a motel. Their car is flagged down by two shady-looking characters, recovering junkie Lacey and wanted criminal Dennis. They are taken hostage under gunpoint and things quickly take a turn for the worse. When they hit an "animal" and blow a tire, Lacey has a bit of a freak-out and Dennis gets a splinter. OH NO!!! Eventually they stop at a petrol station to get some provisions and Lacey goes to get herself a sneaky fix. Oh yes, pre-opening credits we witnessed the petrol station attendant getting attacked by some unknown creature. Lacey discovers the attendant's messed-up body and runs to warn the others. "There's a man with spikes" she screams and they all ignore her, believing it to be another of her junkie-tastic ramblings. But, surprise, surprise, the spikey dead man shows up and kills her. The three lock themselves in the deserted petrol station and start analysing the situation. Clever-boy Seth soon discovers that this "thing" feeds on blood and after hiding in the walk-in fridge they also eventually discover that it is attracted to heat and is unable find them in there. Meanwhile, Dennis' arm is getting worse from the splinter and Seth and Polly have to amputate his arm. The only tools at their disposal is a small carpet knife and a small block of concrete. If it sounds painful, well, it sure looks it as well. Anyway, Dennis is a trooper and by now the whole hostage thing has been forgotten. The three work together and watch in vain as a police officer arrives and is killed by the splinter creature. Seth comes up with the perfect plan. If he lies down in the freezer he can lower his body temperature to the point where the creature won't notice him, then get to the car and they can drive to freedom. Well, things don't go exactly as planned, but I'll leave it there…in case you desperately want to see how it all ends.

I guess my main problem with modern horror films is that whatever suspense there is, is usually generated by cranking the volume and using frantic editing techniques. Whenever anything exciting happens in Splinter the camera goes crazy and you can't really see anything apart from blood splattering and people panicking. I assume this is down to budgetary constraints rather than a stylistic choice, but to me it also speaks of a general lack of film-making skills. This MTV-style editing has been done to death and it just doesn't do anything for me anymore. Take a film like City of God for example. I know it's old by now, but it's just an example. It could have been a great movie, a powerful take on the horrors of gang-land Brazil. But, they had to go and ruin it all with their too-cool-for-school editing. And then everyone was talking about how realistic it was. I just don't get it. To me, the editing of the film did nothing apart from remind me that I was watching a popcorn film, rather than a film that had something to say.

So, there you go. Splinter just manages to scrape together 2 Niks out of 5 possible. However, this is mainly down to the amputation scene, which was pretty awesome.

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