Splinter, by Toby Wilkins, catches nicely into the horror lore of pictures like The Thing and Alien. It makes the most of its brief running time as bad things happen to a couple's romantic anniversary retreat into the woods. Part of the plotting might remind some of last year's adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist.
Starring Jill Wagner, Paulo Costanzo (Road Trip), Shea Whigham (Pride and Glory), and Rachel Kerbs, this prickly thriller with some chills and, of course, gore, seems to get the most out of an innocuous porcupine-like creature.
Following the scary movie recipebook, Splinter has its own spicy elements, even if it's not too original with outdoorsy Polly (Wagner) and awkwardly brainy Seth (Costanzo) unsuccessful on their getaway. Things become worse not long after being carjacked by Whigham's unsavory Dennis and Kerbs' loony, drug-addled girlfriend. Because a sliver of roadkill turns out to be an infected (flattened) victim whose subsequent attackees become zombies of the hedgehog variety.
Asylum for our diverse foursome at the mercy of one thorny, avaricious fungal parasite is a service station/convenience store who have to band together in their version of survival. The violence isn't that pervasive or gratuitous, except for the misfortune of a not very bright state trooper. Wagner is the glue that holds it all together from an actorly standpoint, as it hardly seems mannered here with wit balancing the psychological. Wilkins gets much from what is sometimes lurid and jarring, given the edgy scene changes and flicky camerawork designed to induce the jitters, but probably not sickness like the Saw or Hostel franchises.