Independent horror films are a dime a dozen these days (they’re cheap to make and even cheaper to market), but every once in a while, a gem slides through the cracks that makes you wonder how much better it could have been with the proper financial backing. Writer/director Toby Wilkins’ “Splinter” might not feature the world’s greatest script, or even quality acting, but it does have something that the genre is sorely lacking: one of the most original movie monsters in years. Paulo Costanzo and Jill Wagner star as a young couple whose romantic getaway is interrupted when a pair of criminals (Shea Whigham and Rachel Kerbs) steal their car and take them hostage. The rest of the plot is pretty standard stuff, but horror fans will get a kick out of the film’s creepy beast – a prickly parasite that transforms its victims into deadly hosts. Though the filmmakers too often resort to the kind of quick-cut editing that prevents the viewer from ever getting a really good look at the monster, the premise is just cool enough to ensure that you’ll be glued to the screen throughout the film’s brisk 82-minute runtime. It’s not particularly gruesome (except for a brutal amputation à la “The Ruins”), but “Splinter” has just enough going for it that you’ll wish it was given the theatrical release it deserved.

Click to buy “Splinter”