Frightfest: Splinter (2022)

Director: Tom Ryan

Running Time: 56 Minutes

Starring: Jim Thalman, Kristin Muri, Quincy Saadeh, Tom Martin, Andrew Hunsicker, Amanda Brooke Lerner, Larry Mihlon

Thirty-seven years after being abandoned, Scott (Jim Thalman) grapples with his uncomfortable past while working on his late-mother's house. The prospect of making this a new home for his wife and daughter gives Scott the hope to move forward, although getting a splinter in his foot is the beginning of a nightmare journey.

After dismissing the seriousness of his splinter, Scott is left worrying as his body undergoes startling changes while he sees visions of trees being destroyed. There's potential in this premise of a everyday issue worsening beyond belief, while reopening old wounds as the lead confronts why his mother left him after his father's disappearance. What's depicted unfortunately falls short of that promise, as intrigue wears thin across the padded out runtime while the horror is never truly felt.

Working off a story by Todd Staruch, director Tom Ryan crafts a tale about a man trying not to let his parents past actions destroy his family's future. What's tragedy that the film struggles to sell the core family unit, relegating them to swapping half-hearted jokes and exposition dumps, leaving what should be the films beating heart to instead feel forced and difficult to believe in. This home-grown feature has a curious short story idea at its centre, although it cannot sustain a barely feature-length runtime.

Splinter had its International Premiere at Frightfest 2022