Trapped in an isolated gas station by a voracious Splinter parasite that transforms its still living victims into deadly hosts, a young couple and an escaped convict must find a way to work together to survive this primal terror.
A young woman's quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend, who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity.
In this review I shall not go deeply into the plot, as I believe that the viewer will benefit from knowing as little of the narrative as possible, seeing as the script offers many twists and turns to any film-goer looking for thrills, and the film delivers on its dark premise, and then some.
While films where a group of characters are manipulated and tested upon in many a sadistic and calculated manner have been all the rage since the Saw series, (comparisons to the franchise wouldn't be completely unfounded) this movie has a somewhat different approach to all the torture porn of late by relying on mind-games to get its thrills. Thanks to the swift pace, taut direction and believable cast, this is pulled off tremendously well.
The plot concerns under-the-radar experiments by a government-tied group (the purpose of which not revealed to the viewer until later) on a group of random volunteers. It starts off innocently enough when they are asked to fill out a form of questions, but things take a sudden turn for the sinister, and the group starts acting upon instinct. However they are constantly being scrutinised by a team of psychologists, and through conversations with the leader of the project and a talented new employee, we learn that their every move is anticipated and prepared for. This creates a sense of impending doom, and brilliantly we, the viewer, feel like we are observing them along with their captors.
The performances are incredibly strong and plausible, and as we learn more about the characters and their motives, the suspense and drama feels all the more engaging. While the idea that experiments like this are still being carried out to this day (the film is based upon real experiments conducted by the CIA in the 60's and 70's) is completely impossible, the script makes it feel completely possible. The whole film twists and turns sharply, making for some genuine bite-your-nails, edge-of-your-seat stuff, something which has been missing from thrillers lately.
For fans of this sort of fare, I wholeheartedly recommend this as what is going to be one of the best thrillers of this year. Hell, even if you don't like the genre usually, I think that you should give this a watch. The film will grip you throughout the entirety of its running time until it twists the knife one last time and leaves on a brilliantly sinister note.
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