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Film / Splinter

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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 its 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 creature does is to break the bones of the infected parts so that it has full mobility in every direction.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The creature is killed after its burned alive but Dennis is infected again and he decides to sacrifice his life by blowing himself and the gas station up so that Seth and Polly can escape. And while they're still alive the woods Seth and Polly are wandering in have infected creature corpses lying around so things aren't looking good for them.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The mold detects its targets via heat. If it doesn't sense anything nearby, it will make its hosts go into an inert state until heat is detected. Seth uses this to his advantage by reducing his body heat to a near-fatal level - Enough to avoid detection while giving him time to move before he warms back up to a level the infection can detect - so he can sneak past and get a car started.
  • 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.
  • Botanical Abomination: The threat is a strange, parasitic mold that turns those infected by it into Parasite Zombies that can detect other victims through their body temperature. When it manifests, it grows spikes across the infected area as it breaks the bones of its host to increase its mobility. We never find out exactly where it came from and it is very likely that whatever it is, it is still out there, ready to cause a pandemic.
  • Colliding Criminal Conspiracies: A hostage situation turns into a fight for survival agains a parasitic monster.
  • Dies Wide Shut: Lacey is smashed against a wall by the infected character from the beginning and dies instantly. Having made contact with the mold, her body definitely is not dead...
  • The End... Or Is It?: Seth and Polly escape the gas station and wander into the woods... but the final shot shows that there are other infected creature corpses lying around along with an animal infected with the parasite lurking behind a tree.
  • Evil Hand: Dennis' arm starts trying to spread its infection the moment it overtakes his elbow. While cutting it off stopped the spread throughout his body, the hand proceeded to break and twist itself into a spider-like formation to continue the chase on its own.
  • Final Girl: Polly, a Tomboy and borderline Action Girl who survives the parasite alongside her boyfriend Seth. She was introduced as an Outdoorsy Gal and morphs into an Action Girlfriend by the end.
  • Gas Station of Doom: The movie revolves around a gas station being under the attack of a parasitic organism.
  • Gorn: We've got a parasite that breaks the bones of its host and turns them into violent, mutilated zombies, then Dennis graphically hacks off his own arm to stop the infection from consuming him as well.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Sheriff Frankel is torn apart, and gruesomely put back together by the fungus.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Dennis orders Seth and Polly to flee as he fights the creature, getting infected in the process before blowing up both himself and the monster.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dennis. He's undoubtedly an asshole who's willing to use violent methods to get his way, but he clearly cares about Lacey. He also orders Seth and Polly into the gas station and then into freezer with him instead of leaving them to die, tells them to stay away when his infected arm acts up thanks to the splinter, pleads with the sheriff who arrives to arrest him to radio for backup, wants to send money to the wife of the truck driver he left paralyzed, and finally sacrifices himself in order to kill the monster so that Seth and Polly can escape.
  • Kill It with Fire: Dennis fires at one of the gas pumps, causing it to explode and igniting the monster on fire, and it burns to death.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Later in the film, the parasitic fungus 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 fungus controlling them.
  • One-Handed Shotgun Pump: Dennis performs several in the climax.
  • Parasite Zombie: The creatures in this film are mostly corpses reanimated by a fungal parasite.
  • Police Are Useless/Too Dumb to Live: Sheriff Frankel. Seriously, when not only a couple that are being held hostage but the man holding them hostage are pleading for you to run back to your car and radio in for backup, you'd best go do as they say unless you wanna end up as a piece of a parasitic monster.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The organism consumes its host from the inside out and then basically drives their bodies.
  • People Puppets: As stated, the organism essentially puppeteers the body around, whether they're dead or not.
  • Tender Tomboyishness, Foul Femininity: Lacey is a Jerkass while Polly is notably kinder to others.
  • The Virus: A haemovore fungal mould that takes you over, eats you from the inside out and infects via sticking creatures with thorns made via its own biomass.
  • Playing Possum: To conserve energy, the infection will allow any body it's possessing to go limp as a corpse until it detects more food.
  • Use Your Head: The parasite loves to do this with full-sized hosts.
  • Painful Transformation: The attendant after being infected by an animal. We see his body contort and twist unnaturally while he screams in pain.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: The final scene implies that Dennis sacrificed himself for nothing since it's revealed that there are more infected creature corpses along with an infected animal lurking behind a tree in the woods that Seth and Polly are currently wandering in.
  • Strong Girl, Smart Guy: Polly is the strong girl to Seth's Smart Guy.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Inverted; Lacey is the first of the group to die whereas Polly is the Final Girl.
  • 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.



Dennis is infected.

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