Monday, April 16, 2012

Film review: Slither (2006)

Directed by: James Gunn

Starring: Nathan Fillion
Elizabeth Banks
Michael Rooker
Tania Saulnier

Synopsis:A small town is taken over by an alien plague, turning residents into zombies and all forms of mutant monsters.

My thoughts: I saw this film when it first came out in 2006, but it failed to make much of an impact on me at the time. In the last year or so, however, I've heard it mentioned over and over by people who typically share very similar movie tastes to me. So thinking that perhaps I was in a bad mood, or maybe simply too young, I decided to give it a second shot. Thank god I did!

Slither is one of the best throwback/parody horror films I've seen in years! The film mixes aliens, mutated monsters and zombies into the one film, and manages to perfect the balance between gross-out, humour and horror, all while delivering a cast of characters that are fleshed-out and hilarious in their own special way.

After a rough interaction with galactic space goo while trying to get his groove on, Grant Grant (Rooker) returns home with an alien burrowed in his brain and a desperate desire for meat. Unbeknownst to his sweet, but kind of dippy wife Starla (Banks), Grant is slowly transforming into a persistently hungry alien-monster, hunting down the neighbourhood's pets and farm animals for food, before turning to a larger and more desirable meal, people. Armed with the face of a 15 year old Pizza Hut worker, and two tentacle/scorpion tails projecting from his chest, Grant begins to terrorise the town, feasting and turning the locals into zombie-like worker bees with a gazillion slimy worms helping him succeed. Faced with the fact that her beloved (though hardly perfect) husband is now some kind of alien, Starla teams up with Bill Pardy (Fillion) and Kylie (Saulnier) to try and save themselves and the town.

The whole cast are incredibly likeable and have great chemistry together. Fillion, as usual, is the loveable rogue, though he's a little more inept in this than he is in his more famed role in Firefly. His adoration for Starla is barely concealed, and becomes noticeably more awkward the less human (looking) Starla's husband becomes. While Starla and Bill are inarguably the stars of the film, Bill's quips and scenes with Kylie, your typical teenage girl, are some of my favourites. Hands down though, the best performance in the film is tied between Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry, who plays the town mayor. Henry is an absolute riot, but Rooker manages to display both humour and geniune empathy with his transforming character. His love for his wife is obvious, even if he's perhaps the worst person to ever try and display it. I've always enjoyed Rooker as an actor, but this film has completely sold me on him.

Writer/director James Gunn (writer of 2004's Dawn of the Dead remake) cut his teeth working for Troma, and there is a distinct Troma feel throughout this film, as well as a couple of discreet little plugs for them dotted here and there (keep an eye on the TV screen at Grant's lady's house). The special effects are primarily physical, but extravagantly so. There is no subtlety to these effects, everything is big and slimy and insane, but the quality is high and almost Conenberg-like at times...if you dialled Cronenberg up to 10,000! In fact, there is no subtly whatsoever in this film, and if it wasn't aiming to be shlocky it'd be bordering on terrible. From the effects, to the southern accents, to the town hunting party, to the longing looks that Bill shoots at's all larger and more bizarre than life could ever hope to be. The film never takes itself seriously, and all the bad reviews I've seen for this one seem to be from people who fail to recognise this.

You'll find yourself laughing far more than you'll find yourself hiding behind your eyes in this one, but it makes a decent horror film nonetheless. It's a throwback film, but amidst the extreme behaviour and stunts is a troop of quality actors doing a fantastic job, so if you're looking to be entertained, or if you enjoy your horror with a large helping of hilarious, then I think this is the film for you. Keep an eye out for the scene in the barn, it's...well, let's just say it needs to be watched!

4 out of 5 zombie deer stomps in the face.


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