Thursday, May 18, 2017

Horror Movie Mini-Reviews: Personal Shopper and Splinter

* Personal Shopper

Maureen mourns for her twin brother's recent death and returns to the place where he died in Paris. She's convinced that he will give her a sign of the afterlife (if there is one) as they promised. Her living expenses are paid for by being a personal shopper for Kyra, a moody and demanding fashion model. I had high hopes for this one because I thought it would be a film that never actually shows anything supernatural and deals more with her grief. I was wrong and it was also very boring. Kirsten Stewart sighs and mopes through the whole thing with her signature expression. A CGI ghost shows up to terrorize Maureen at her brother's house, which didn't look convincing and didn't seem to actually mean anything in the grand scheme of things.

The most interesting part of the film is when Maureen receives text messages from an unknown person, daring to her to do things she's afraid to do and pushing her boundaries. It's never revealed who this person is, but the implications expand when she finds her boss murdered. Nothing in the story really seems to connect with anything else. I started to like Maureen as she tried on her boss's clothes, but then she went way too far with it and lost me. The ending has a very cool moment that goes largely unnoticed by the characters, but proves to be rather anticlimactic. Personal Shopper is an incredibly boring film with some moments of brilliance and lots of wasted potential. Long stretches of time felt like nothing was going on at all. It's visually striking and Stewart is adept at moping, but it felt like a dull waste of time.

My rating: 1.5/5 fishmuffins

* Splinter

Two very different couples collide in a remote gas station. Seth and Polly are a young, sweet, affluent couple out for a romantic camping trip. On the other hand, Lacey and Dennis are out to rob people to feed Lacey's drug addiction and continue to flee from the law. Lacey and Dennis hold Seth and Polly hostage, but are forced to stop at the gas station where a mysterious creature infects the attendent. The two couples have to work together if they want to survive despite their differences. I wasn't expecting a lot from Splinter, but it was surprisingly decent. At first I was annoyed because Dennis was such a chauvinist idiot, but he was nicely balanced by Seth and Polly plus his obvious care for Lacey. Seth is not stereotypically manly or physically strong while Polly is very physically capable and knows much more about mechanics. I enjoyed the contrast of one couple portraying conventional gender roles while other breaks them. Polly and Dennis often clash, but work together weirdly well when everything goes to hell. All of the characters do whatever they have to in order to help each other escape.

The splinter here is an unknown parasite that grows rapidly in organic matter. Even the slightest bit of it can eventually take over a whole person in a matter of hours. If infected, death is definite and it's only a matter of time until that person attacks the rest. It doesn't attack like a zombie, but does whatever it can to impale its spikes on more organic matter. The way this thing makes living or dead bodies move is eerie and unique as bodies weren't meant to do that, even combining multiples together for a bigger organism with many more spikes. It hunts by sensing body heat and (of course) has one fatal flaw. The effects for the spikes and the performances of the infected were superb. The start of the movie seemed to stereotypical and dumb, but by the time the splinter showed up, I was hooked. The body horror elements made me so happy and everything from the arrival at the gas station on was incredibly suspenseful. Our unlikely heroes came up with surprisingly intelligent ways to try to contact the outside world, combat the creature, and escape. Splinter delivered a creepy body horror seige film that is definitely worth your time.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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