‘Splinters’ Has Good, Subtle Characters but Lacks Drama

Ulises Duenas


Many recent indie films have focused on making characters and dialogue that feel realistic as a means of compelling an audience. Splinters (Outsider Pictures) is a micro-budget indie drama set in the Midwest about a mother and her teenage son trying to navigate life without their husband/father. Its grounded characters and performances make for a realistic depiction of a family struggling with their emotions, but it still leaves something to be desired.


After facing loss, Anna and her son Bo are navigating life on autopilot. They struggle to express how they feel and don’t know how to move on. Anna works night shifts at the front desk of a hotel, which leaves her physically drained during the day. The divide between Anna and Bo feels very real in the first half of the movie. Both are doing their best to behave normally and not get drowned in grief. Conflict arises when Anna becomes friendly with one of Bo’s teachers, David. Bo sensing that his mom is trying to move on too soon feels like something out of a sitcom. It’s not like Bo is a moody pre-teen, but his reactions to his mother’s actions seem  stereotypical for a grounded drama.



The film’s biggest problem is a general lack of real conflict or some kind of plot hook that the audience can relate to. At one point, Bo tells David’s daughter Joan, who is the same age as him, about a story Bo’s dad told his boss about burying money and how he plans to dig it up. It again makes the movie feel like a weird sitcom, and even though Bo’s motives are somewhat understandable, it negates the overall serious tone of the film. Bo’s character becomes more and more emotional leading to a moment that could be considered the plot’s climax, but it still lacked the dramatic boom that the movie needed. 


Paul Gordon as David is the highlight of the movie since his delivery is so awkward and dry. David seems like a boring person doing his best to impress Anna since he and his wife recently separated. He doesn’t come off as creepy and there’s a certain charm to his droning dialogue that gives the movie a comedic aspect that it needs. While David and Joan mirror Anna and Bo in some ways, they aren't as key to the overall plot as they could have been and fleshing out their characters could have added a lot more to the movie.



Splinters is only about an hour long, and while it has some good, realistic performances, it still lacks the necessary drama. A number of viewers will walk away from this film thinking it’s just boring, but my biggest issue is the plot device of the buried money and how Bo’s character becomes more bratty and less realistic. Even by the standards of slow, quiet indie movies, this film comes up short in terms of dramatic oomph and compelling characters.


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.


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Photos courtesy of Outsider Pictures
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