By Vic Holtreman
Short version: Gory and gross, as it should be, but not as funny as it could have been.
I was really looking forward to watching Slither. It looked like one of those "wink at the audience" horror flicks, with the sense of humor found in Tremors and great NON-CGI special effects. Plus it starred Nathan Fillion of Serenity, and I've become a big fan of his laid back and slightly Southern acting style.
Now don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it, I just didn't love it.
It was a great combination of a monster/alien/zombie movie and it did in fact elicit a few laugh out loud moments, but overall I thought it was just ok. It wasn't great enough to generate killer word of mouth ("you have GOT to go see it") and that probably accounts for its fairly abysmal box office. It may get a lift this weekend if word of mouth is good, but I wouldn't bet on it. It's a bummer too, as Fillion has now been in two movies that had pretty good expectations that were not lived up to as far as box office.
I did say in an earlier post that I thought (based on what I'd read and seen at the time) that Slither would end up being a "sleeper"... that it would make it's money over time, and it will probably end up being a cult hit a few years done the road.
On to the movie...
Slither opens with a mysterious meteor heading towards Earth, it's target a sleepy little town. A very sleepy little town where a significant portion of the residents seem to be the result of cousins getting married. We're introduced to what seem to be the only two police officers in town, with Nathan Fillion playing Bill Pardy, the recently promoted man in charge.
The meteorite crashes in the woods and with a tip of the hat to The Blob, cracks open revealing some gooey stuff. Cut to some background on key players in the movie including mayor Jack MacReady (played a bit too over the top by Gregg Henry), the always creepy Michael Rooker playing the wealthiest guy in town (Grant Grant, no that's not a typo), 20 years older than the high school beauty he married 10 years or so ago, and the beauty in question: Elizabeth Banks (as Starla Grant).
The mayor is a foul-mouthed fellow whose favorite word is the F-bomb. Now I have to admit the first couple of times he used it, I thought it was pretty hilarious, but after I don't know, the 20th or 30th time I thought the "funny" was pretty much used up. He's a good ol' boy whose IQ is about 10 points higher than the average citizen in town (put that at about 70) so I guess that qualified him for mayor.
Grant seems like an ok guy, but it looks like his marriage has headed a bit south and that Starla is craving something more. As a pre-teen she had dreams of running away to Hollywood to become a star, but she was turned back to reality by a young Bill Pardy. She's now a school teacher and is pretty numb to life.
Bill is a stand-up guy, and smarter than he lets on (at least a little), and who has carried a torch for Starla ever since they were kids.
At one point a frustrated Grant heads out to a bar and meets a local floozie that he hasn't seen since before she wore a bra. She's married (I think) and has a baby at home, but that doesn't keep her from expressing her true feelings for him. They get drunk and head out into the woods, where they find the slimy trail left by the creature that arrived in the meteorite. Of course one of them (ok, it's Grant) gets "infected" in a method similar to a scene from The Matrix.
It's obvious that he's sharing his consciousness with an alien, and eventually his body starts to change (for the worse, of course). When he returns home that morning, Starla has had a change of heart and they make love. Apparently the creature inhabiting Grant has never experienced anything like this before and it imprints on his psyche in a big way (that comes into play later).
Eventually it's apparent that it needs to reproduce in some way but it doesn't want to hurt Starla. Grant heads off to find the aforementioned floozie and proceeds to infect her with a couple of tendrils that come out of his torso and seem to be pumping something into her. To the director's credit, he managed to make the scene gross, repulsive and yet funny all at the same time.
It also seems that the creature (and then the floozie) are incredibly, ravenously hungry so he goes on a killing spree of dogs, cats and cattle to be used as food. He is soon seen by Bill and it becomes apparent that something is up and the town is in danger. Unfortunately it's the beginning of deer hunting season, and much like in Jaws, the mayor doesn't want to do anything to upset commerce for the town.
A posse is put together to go after the creature/Grant (which the mayor doubts exists) and they find it. It's gotten progressively bigger and uglier and at one point I wondered if they hired the makeup guy from Freaked to design the monster, as it was strikingly similar facially to a character from that film. One of the members of the posse is killed almost immediately (no suprise there) in a very, um... interesting way. It was the subtlety of the effects in that particular scene that made me squirm a bit.
From there they find the transformed floozie in a barn (click on the image above for a larger version, and that turned out to be one of the funnier exchanges in the movie. It was at about this point that things finally got moving, which was welcome due to the fact that I thought that the film kind of dragged a lot up until this point.
Anyway, I don't want to get into too many details, but the town ends up being overrun by the slugs you've probably seen in the posters and commercials. Folks end up acting kind of like the George Romero version of zombies, which was cool, and we find out what the creature's history/motivation is.
There are a few neat surprises, lots of gore and goo and once in a while you'll probably laugh.
In the end I wish that they had trimmed the film down a bit more to keep it moving at a better pace, and that they didn't milk the F-word into the ground. Really, it's funny a couple of times but after a while it just gets old.
So it was fun, but not as fun as I had hoped.