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February 3, 2013

Movie Review: Splintered (2010)

Review by Greg Goodsell
Directed by Simeon Halligan

A group of twenty-somethings head out to rural Wales to investigate a deadly, supernatural force – WAIT! DON’T EJECT THE DVD JUST YET! We never see the shaky hand-held footage they take, so calm down … Led by Sophie (Holly Weston), the gang bickers and downplays her childhood fears that werewolves are real. Striking camp, Sophie and her friend Sam (Sacha Dhawan) hear a mysterious noise and decide to investigate. Coming upon an abandoned Catholic School they venture inside. Sophie is abducted and held prisoner by slobbering madman Gavin (Stephen Walters) who warns her of a horrible beast on the premises. Sam winds up as the monster’s meal. Sophie’s not too smart friends go poking around, and in the interim, horrible secrets of the monster’s origins are revealed. Truth be told, the creatures lurking in the abandoned school are not the result of hoodoo voodoo, but from the abuse of children from religious figures. And a terrible secret lurking in Sophie’s past makes her feel a certain kinship for the demons lurking in the dark …

A stock horror film figure, werewolves are rarely seen in cheap-o independent films such as this one; unlike vampires, werewolves need acumen of special effects competency to work. With the popularity of the Twilight series, we can be sure to expect a flood of the hairy beasts cluttering up rental shelves any day now. (It’s ironic that Benicio del Toro’s Wolfman (2010) vanity project in hindsight turned out to be such a disaster – taking $150 million to produce, and earning only $50 million domestically!) Natch, the “werewolf” in Splintered is a bestial, pathetic man, driven to violence due to his horrific abuse at the hands of the priests at the school. This is the only original element to be found in Splintered, giving it a patina of heartfelt sincerity. As this synopsis suggests, Splintered steals and reworks countless genre clich├ęs from the 1930s (slobbering servant to the monster as represented by Gavin), to the 1980s (monster man just won’t stay dead) to the aughts (kids making a video documentary debunking an old superstition). Depending on the viewer’s mood, the major revelation in Splintered will either come off as insightful and brave, or just another plot twist in a story that creaks. Hell, one character’s demise if lifted whole-cloth from Burnt Offerings! (1976)

Splintered is quickly on the road to being packaged with three or seven other like-minded flicks to go on a single DVD, in the slush bins at WalMart for $4.99. Wait for it until then!   

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