Splinter (2008)

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Released 8-Sep-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 81:43
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Toby Wilkins
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Shea Whigham
Paulo Costanzo
Jill Wagner
Rachel Kerbs
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Elia Cmiral


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English dts 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

   There's not a lot to say about Toby Wilkins' recent monster-feature Splinter; despite some interesting ideas and a small but solid cast, it's a below-average horror film without anything to say or anything to make it memorable. The scene is set awkwardly in a prologue where an unnamed gas station attendant is attacked by a rabid animal, later revealed to be the titular parasite taking to and mixing with anything alive. We're introduced to a young couple, Seth Belzer (Paulo Costanzo) and Polly Watt (Jill Wagner) whose romantic camping trip takes a turn for the worse when they're hijacked by an escaped convict Dennis (Shea Whigham) and his insane, unlikeable drug-addled girlfriend Lacey (Rachel Kerbs). A run in with some spikey roadkill leads them to being hunted by the parasitic creature and they barricade themselves into the gas station in attempt to avoid certain death.

   There's nothing to Splinter. It has some nifty practical effects that clash with some truly awful (and thankfully minimal) CG; it has vaguely likeable and believable characters making both good and horrible decisions; it has multiple amputations and yucky things that still chase you around after they've been severed from their bodies. But more importantly, it has no scares, and no point. The film lacks craft in building up its monster, but then having it do very little that's actually interesting. At times, it doesn't even seem overly threatening, which makes the cast's reaction seem like a hysterical overreaction. The ending is predictable and closely resembles the final paragraph of any Goosebumps.

   For me, films like this are the most uninteresting; films that are truly great, or even just good, are memorable and leave a mark. They make you talk to your friends, talk to other viewers, they're exciting and meaningful. On the other hand, films that are truly terrible, that go beyond the realms of bad taste and bad filmmaking can be just as exciting, and cause just as much conversation. In the middle of both is something like Splinter, that no one will see, that leaves no impression, that no one will care about.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

   This is actually a very pristine, good-looking, maybe even flawless video transfer. There is no interlacing, no grain, no problems with artefacts, it all looks great. I can't find any information on the film's technical details but as an independent production I'd have thought it was shot on HD, but there are no signs of that anywhere across this transfer - none of the usual grainy darkness or murky colours. It's excellent.

   But, on the flipside, although the film is well shot, with appropriate use of camera angles and steadicam to heighten tension, its colours look bad. Not unrealistic or washed out or dull, just unappealing and wrong. It's as if the editor decided to change the pallet of colours across the film needlessly at some point for some kind of effect, and failed miserably. Fans of the film aren't going to care either way, but I'm completely baffled by this.

   There are English subtitles for the hard of hearing - what I sampled was accurate and readable..

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   The audio is presented in English DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Digital 2.0 (Stereo).

   Splinter's excellent video transfer is offset by poor audio; both of the surround tracks lack depth, instead piling on loudness especially in pivotal scenes. It lacks finesse and draws you out of the picture, wrecking the atmosphere banging away as loud as possible whenever the thing strikes. Though all the dialogue and sound effects are intact, the overall effect of this is very disappointing. Pounding on the bass and blasting from all angles doesn't even startle in a way that's effective - it's just annoying.

   I am told that the music by Elia Cmiral is suitably atmospheric and works very well - however, I cannot comment on this.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Animated Menus with Sound

   The menus here feature some nifty images and sound, and that's it - no other extra material at all.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   Fans of Splinter will be deeply annoyed to hear how short-changed we got with our barebones R4 release. The R1 features multiple commentary tracks and a variety of featurettes about how the film was made, the only exchange being that theirs is without the DTS 5.1 track, which, as noted, is not great. Fans will want to import the R1 immediately.

Summary

   Splinter is not terrible, but not great; a below average horror offering that isn't at all memorable.

   The video transfer is flawless, whereas the main audio tracks are loud and seemingly lacking in detail.

   There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using Component output
DisplayPhilips 47PFL9732D 47-inch LCD . Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderLogitech 5500 THX.
AmplificationLogitech 5500 THX
SpeakersLogitech 5500 THX

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