has an average rating of 6.3 on IMDb
1080p in VC-1 on a 25gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are a bit short but still enlightening
– 82 minutes
This uses 18.9GB for the movie out of 21.5GB total.
Overall Verdict – Worth A Look
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself is a pretty low budget independent horror film Directed by Toby Wilkins. The film starts us out with a younger man in his twenties sitting outside a gas station virtually out in the middle of nowhere, a.k.a. Oklahoma. The guy starts to notice an animal or something is in the bushes and tells it to go away. The animal doesn’t go away so he proceeds to investigate and as a result is mauled to death by what would appear to be a wolf covered in blood. Thus starts the credits to our film and then we are introduced to two couples that are complete opposites but have paths that are destined to cross.
Our first couple are the normal couple. “Seth Belzer” (played by Paulo Costanzo) and his girlfriend “Polly Watt” (played by Jill Wagner) are out on a camping trip. It’s obvious that Seth isn’t too much of an “outdoors man” as they manage breaking their tent equipment. Due to this unexpected snag in the road they end up ditching their camping plans in favor of a hotel but along the way they encounter a woman who stands out in the middle of the road, grabbing Polly’s attention. The girl has the couple’s attention long enough for them to be soon startled yet again by the girl’s boyfriend holding a gun to their window. The boyfriend is an obvious criminal on the run. The guy tells them to get out of the S.U.V. and proceeds to both carjack and also decides to take them hostage. The other couple here, now taking our first couple hostage are two junkies claiming to be on their way to Mexico. The male here is named “Dennis” (played by Shea Whigham) and the female is named “Lacey” (played by Rachel Kerbs).
The two couples are driving at gunpoint until the tire on the S.U.V. goes flat. This allows us to be briefly introduced the real horror element of the film. As Dennis has Polly help him change the tire, he hands the gun off to Lacey who takes Seth with her to look at what she claims is her pet. The road kill they find is a very grotesque scene of carnage but as she forces Seth to “fix it” he notices close-up (at gunpoint of course) that it has these weird characteristics. Seth just-so-happens to be a biology student so he knows a bit about these things. Keep that in mind throughout the film. Long story short, avoiding too many spoilers, they end up changing the tire quick enough to flee the scene which is our first real scare on the two couples. They manage to come across a gas station which happens to be, unknown to our couples, where we saw the man get mauled in the opening bit of the film. They stop at the gas station and well, end up taking up refuge in the building to stay alive when an unknown, awkward shaped and moving creature starts to take control.
Overall, in closing — “Splinter” is a pretty straight forward low-budget horror film but it’s pretty impressive to see something like this still being made these days. I’d recommend it to anyone who is a fan of horror films and even Sci-Fi in ways.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the VC-1 codec on a BD-25 (25 gigabyte single-layer Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
This film was shot digitaly in Hi-Def on the Arriflex D-20 camera which makes sense considering HD.net (the first Hi-Def TV network) founder Mark Cuban served as an Executive Producer. The presentation is very crisp and clear to only be an independent horror film. I’m not the only one who likes the visual style here either. Cinematographer (DP) Nelson Cragg has went on to serve as DP (Director of Photography) on 15 episodes of the hit TV series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” as well as 35 other works since 2002. He’s someone to keep an eye on, pun intended. His unique visual style here really works for a low budget horror shot digitally (Hi-Def) and is enough to put it up there with some of the video quality found on major studio horror Blu-ray releases. The amount of detail found here visually is nice, the black level is solid which is important in a horror film. The fleshtones are accurate and the color palette is at times vibrant but for the most part dull because of visual style. “Splinter” earns itself an impressive and very respectable “4.5 Star Rating” overall for video quality. Congratulations to Magnolia on yet another quality Blu-ray Disc release.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. “Splinter” on Blu-ray Disc packs quite a “punch” at times for an independent horror film. The dialogue is delivered very clearly throughout primarily the front 3 channels and doesn’t ever seem to ever be drowned out by the loud sound effects during action or the original music by Elia Cmiral. Speaking of the sound effects and film’s music. They get a really nice presence throughout the 5.1 soundscape and offer some impressive sequences. One that is sure to make you jump out of your seat comes a little over halfway through the film. I’ll only say that much to avoid any spoilers. This definitely “gets the job done” and earns itself a respectable “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.
Bonus Materials are all presented in Standard Definition video using VC-1 codec and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- “Audio Commentary with Toby Wilkins (Director), Shea Whigham (Actor), Paulo Costanzo (Actor) and Jill Wagner (Actor)” is your standard commentary track you’d expect for most all films. This time though you get all of the stars and the Director together on one recording.
- “Audio Commentary with Toby Wilkins (Director), Nelson Cragg (Director of Photography) and David Michael Maurer (Editor)” proves to really be a technical oriented track worth the listen to the independent aspiring filmmakers out there.
- “The Splinter Creature” (4:07) starts off with an interview from Director Toby Wilkins and then takes a look at a male gymnast from Oklahoma who ended up designing the physical movements of the creature in the film with the Director and even played the creature in the film. This proves to be really interesting and even includes some behind-the-scenes make-up application footage which is very weird looking.
- “Creature Concept Art” (1:28) runs sadly in SD as a playall style slideshow. This for some reason features 320kbps DD 2.0 sound, oddly too.
- “The Wizard” (1:10) features an interview with a guy who calls himself “The Wizard” that served as a pyrotechnics expert on the film. As you’d likely guess this guy did time with our countries armed forces before this. He claims he’s just happy afterward he could get a job blowing things up and basically not going to jail for it and being able to come back and do it all over again the next day.
- “Building the Gas Station” (1:54) takes a look at the construction of the area that makes up the “stage” for a large majority of the film. This proves to be somewhat interesting and thankfully short.
- “Shooting Digitally” has our Director Toby Wilkins basically beating around the bush about digital cameras now being equal to traditional 35mm film cameras and discussing going away from his tradition of shooting on film and shooting… you guessed it, digitally. He totally manages to not mention High Definition here but I forgive him as he’s obviously new to things digital.
- “Oklahoma Weather” (1:57) is so boring that… I dunno I tried to start this one with a bad joke, which I did. Anyway this again has our Director discussing shooting the film in Oklahoma due to it being cheap to film there. There seems to be a ton of rain in the state, judging from this bit of behind-the-scenes footage. The L.A. native Director Wilkins was totally overwhelmed it seems by the thunderstorms in the location state, Oklahoma.
- “How to Make a Splinter Pumpkin” (2:21) has the actress Jill Wagner demonstrating to us how to make a themed pumpkin for Halloween to help promote the film she was in. This proves to be a useful and enjoyable featurette about a total of 364 out of 365 days of the year but yea, I won’t try to bash too much more on this. The end result I will mention though looks very dangerous as it is basically a pumpkin with a bunch of black glass like shards stuck into it.
- “HDNet: A Look at Splinter” was a short little showcase on the film done for Executive Producer / Co-Owner of Magnolia and Owner of HDNet to feature the film on his Hi-Def television network. This has some interview footage with Director Toby Wilkins if you haven’t already grew tiresome of his face. Just kidding, he has a very handsome face that only a mother could love. Again just kidding, just tired of seeing him about 90% of these featurettes.
- “Also from Magnolia Home Entertainment Blu-ray” is not technically a bonus material yet it appears on the list. Regardless it includes trailers for “Let the Right One In” (another good film) as well as the upcoming films “Mutant Chronicles” and “Eden Log“.
Overall, the bonus materials we get here are a bit of a disappointment in terms of not being in Hi-Def and more lengthy but we do get a really enlightening look at the film from the perspective of the film’s Director in the Standard Def featurettes that include interviews. The featurettes may be short and only SD but they do prove to be worth the watch if you enjoyed the film but this usually proves to be the case for most any film. I suggest Magnolia start to make Hi-Def bonus materials mandatory on all their releases. After all, Mark Cuban of HDNet (the first Hi-Def television network) is a co-owner of this company and even served as Executive Producer on the said film. You’d think he would make this happen.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.