Film: Splinter

Splinter is a 2008 horror film directed by Toby Wilkins.

The film opens with a gas station attendant out in the woods being attacked by what appears to be a rabid animal. It then cuts to a couple; Seth Belzer (Paulo Costanzo) and Polly Watt (Jill Wagner); attempting to go on a camping trip, but upon failing to erect the tent, deciding to go to a motel instead. As they drive, they are pulled over by escaped convict Dennis Farell (Shea Whigham) and his junkie girlfriend Lacey Belisle (Rachel Kerbs), whom are eloping to flee to Mexico. The two hijack their car and take the couple hostage.

As night falls and the four continue on, they hit an animal. Investigating the damage, Dennis gets a splinter in his finger. Seth and Lacey, meanwhile, discover that the animal they hit is covered in black spikes. When the carcass suddenly convulses, they flee. Stopping at the aforementioned gas station, Lacey goes to use the bathroom. There, she discovers the body of the attendant, covered in the same black spikes. The body suddenly comes alive, attacks and kills her.

Seth, Polly and Dennis take refuge inside the station. Observing an animate severed hand that manages to slip inside, Seth, a biology student, determines they are under attack by a parasitic organism. The organism, manifesting as the black spikes, takes over the bodies of the animals or people it kills and uses them for locomotion. It can also use severed limbs such as the hand for this purpose. Furthermore, one piece infected with it can connect itself via the spikes to another piece (for example, an infected severed pair of legs can connect itself to the severed torso of a different person).

The three must find away to keep safe from the organism, as well as defeat it. But Dennis, due to the splinter he got earlier, has already been infected himself...

Not to be confused with the 2006 film of the same title.

This film provides examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: When Lacey discovers the body of the gas attendant, it turns out that despite his horrific condition, he's still alive, even begging her to kill him.
  • Amputation Stops Spread: After Dennis' infection gets out of control and his arm takes on a life of it's own, they cut it off to make sure it doesn't spread. And it works.
  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: One of the first things that the creatures does is to break the bones of the infected parts so that it has full mobility in every direction.
  • Body Horror: A film whose main antagonist has the ability to infect hosts and twist them into rotting, flailing monsters with spikes sticking out their flesh.
  • Colliding Criminal Conspiracies: A hostage situation turns into a fight for survival agains a parasitic monster.
  • Life or Limb Decision: Later in the film, the parasitic virus that Dennis contracted from pricking his finger has spread entirely up his forearm, taking full control of it. Before it can spread further, Dennis bravely decides to hack it off himself with a box-cutter but then blacks out from the sheer pain caused by his infected arm's violent independent movements. Fortunately, Seth and Polly take over and manage to finish the job for him. Due to the crudely improvised "surgical" tools involved, the experience for Dennis is understandably not comfortable.
  • Marionette Motion: Those infected exhibit violent, jerky movements with no fluidity due to the virus controlling them.
  • One-Handed Shotgun Pump: Dennis performs several in the climax.
  • Painful Transformation: The attendant after being infected by an animal. We see his body contort and twist unnaturally while he screams in pain
  • Zombie Infectee: Dennis accidentally gets a splinter in his finger earlier and leaves it up to the point that it starts violently moving around by itself. They cut it off luckily, but near the end of the movie, he gets infected again, and not in an area that can be cut off. This leads Dennis to blow up the gas station while he's in it to kill both himself and what's left of the infected.