“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.” — IMDb
Oh man. My one-word summary for this, if I was forced to give one? FUN. I know, that seems odd, but it was just an exciting movie from top to bottom. The director, Toby Wilkins, really did a good job of keeping the storyline engaging right until the last scene.
I’ll be honest, when it started I thought the characters seemed a bit stereotypical and the dialogue left something to be desired — it was just so textbook. I am also not crazy about when a movie basically shows you exactly what’s going to happen in the first scene. It opened right up with the gas station attendant being killed by an infected creature, and aside from it setting up the fact that the gas station was abandoned, it really didn’t need to happen at all — they could have cut that first 5 minutes from the movie and it wouldn’t have changed a bit.
But really, once you get past the stiffness of the first bit of the movie, it’s just a thrill ride. The tension is high from the get-go, both from the hostage situation and the obvious anticipation of something else going terribly wrong. The script wasn’t the most original in the world but I felt like the actors did well despite that and did a good job at being natural. I also liked that they were much more even keel and rational than some “victims” can be in movies — there really wasn’t much that they did to illicit a “seriously THAT’S YOUR SOLUTION!?” kind of reaction, which I feel like happens often. They were overall very smart and tried to use their wits (and Seth’s biology knowledge) to outsmart the situation.
Probably my favorite parts of the movie were the infected bodies themselves. The little bit of a hand that skitters its way through the gas station was awesome, and super well done — something that I think could have easily been comical if not, but it was truly creepy. The jerky, staggering motion of the infected people was also freaky as hell, and paired with the almost creaking sound effects they used… awesome.
It went a little stereotypical with the convict, Dennis (played by Shea Whigham), hiding his infected wound. There’s always gotta be ONE person who hides their infection from the group, and this movie delivered on that. But I liked how they dealt with it. Watching his bones start to crack and re-set as he’s taken over was horrifying, and the scene with him getting his arm bone snapped with a cement block was… intense.
The hybrid of the infected Lacey and the female cop was so good. Both the gore of watching the two bodies get almost sewn together by the parasite, and the final product — it was reminiscent of some of the creatures from The Thing, like it was trying to look like a normal human but didn’t quite know where everything went, so the final product is just this terrifying mashup, all jerky and flailing around. When it finally breaks into the gas station it’s just this bumbling mess of horror — super well done.
My favorite part might have been when a one-armed Dennis is cocking the shotgun and just going crazy shooting the thing. BADASS. They did a really good job of making your feelings towards him transform from frustration and anger to downright sympathy when you find out what his true motives are.
Ultimately an unexpectedly scary and well-done movie!