This film is a U.K movie about Sophie and her group of friends who go on a trip to an area of Wales looking for some kind of beast that is killing in the area. While camping Sophie and a ... See full summary »
This film is a U.K movie about Sophie and her group of friends who go on a trip to an area of Wales looking for some kind of beast that is killing in the area. While camping Sophie and a friend hear something so they follow it to an abandoned estate. They soon become aware that something is not right and they end up in trouble. Meanwhile their friends go searching for them after they realize Sophie and their friend haven't returned. They all end up in a fight for their lives against someone or something that isn't what you think. Who will live? Written by
Michael Hallows Eve
Splintered - Solid thrills, a great look and some interesting ideas
Saw this at the Grimm Up North! festival in Manchester, here are my thoughts...
Splintered sets its focus on Sophie (Holly Weston), a troubled young girl haunted by the abuse she suffered as a child and harbouring a deep fascination with the unexplained. In the hope of satiating her obsession with the latter, our heroine instigates a trip to the Welsh countryside with four friends, aimed at tracking down the legendary Beast of Bodmin. It seems the mythical creature often thought to be a large wildcat or fox has caught the public's attention once more thanks to a spate of attacks on livestock and one local farmer. It is an opportunity Sophie has decided is not to be missed and, armed with a video camera and a case of beer, the group head off into the woods. However, they soon uncover much more than they bargained for, with the female lead falling foul of a mysterious madman who locks her away in an apparent attempt to protect her from some unnamed terror.
The movie opens well with a great score and slick credit sequence, setting up a glossy tone filled with moments of gloomy shadows and chilling blue hues. From the first scene, in which we get a look at Sophie's childhood, it's clear this is a girl who is as damaged by the nightmares of her real life as she is the demons that fill her dreams while she sleeps. The Scooby gang we're introduced to shortly after are established quickly and, if I'm being honest, it wasn't too difficult to pick out which ones I would like to see on the wrong end of a meat hook later. Sam (Sacha Dhawan) plays the douchebag boyfriend of Sophie's limp, wet best mate Jane (Sadie Pickering). Elsewhere, the job of fancying our (extremely fancyable) lead falls to the rather blunt instrument that is John (Sol Heras) and the sensitive and sheepish Dean (Jonathan Readwin).
One could argue Sophie is the typically isolated and haunted 'final girl' we've come to expect from the woodland slasher sub-genre, but I'd have to say that would also be grossly unfair. Getting beneath her layers and finding out what makes her tick is perhaps one of Splintered's most engaging elements, as she struggles to cope with the memories of her childhood abuser and the castrating power this has had in overcoming this new terror. This final girl has, initially, got more in common with the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Sally Hardesty; fleeing, screaming and generally being terrified. But it is in her Laurie Strode moments later when forced to adapt, come up with solutions and face down both her internal and external demons that she becomes so much more. In one scene the frame of a sliding prison door window id used to play out an escape attempt with a brick to dislodge the bolt that keeping her trapped. This not only sets up a simple intensity as her pursuer hacks away at a ribcage just a few doors away, it also gives Weston the chance to put in one of many great turns no mean feat in a film focusing so closely on its young lead.
Elsewhere, the other teen players are pretty solid, but unfortunately one or two of the interactions between Sam and Jane feel just a little stilted. These are particularly noticeable in moments placed next to the more intense and convincing confrontations between Sophie and Gavin (Stephen Martin Walters) the deranged and twitchy schizophrenic who serves as her captor. One part psychotic nightmare and two parts damaged man-child, Gavin is wonderfully played as a grimy but multi-dimensional villain who is always just a step away from being revealed as simply misunderstood much like his new found prisoner. But another special mention must go to Jonathan Readwin as Dean, who starts off as just a blank canvas with a crush, but ends up being one of the most alluring and funny characters on the screen. On a couple of occasions this lazy James Franco-esquire youngster is faced with some particularly ugly moments that are punctuated with a "Fah-kin hell" that gives things a gentle comic lift without being too jarring or silly.
I can say in all honesty this is something I would wholeheartedly recommend. Sure, the basic outline of putting a bunch of teens in a forest is a little familiar, but this is only really used to set the psychological aspects of the narrative in motion. Besides, isn't 'terror in the woods' just another sub-genre of horror we've now come to know and love? And isn't criticising Splintered for using this much the same as saying George Romero's latest will be 'just another story where people die, come back to life and than try to eat other people'?
The truth is, this flick has got some great ideas, solid performances, tense moments and a final girl that is as alluring to the mind as she is to the eye and for me this is what counts in a movie of this kind. Splintered is just another example of a thriving UK horror community that continues to serve up antidotes to the dull-as-dishwater Saw films and the mindless remakes that fill our multiplexes for a week at a time over and over again. If you want scares, blood and some actual story, you'll be well served here.
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