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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Slither (2006)

A small town is about to celebrate the opening of deer hunting season, or maybe it is the closing of it. I’m really not sure, but there are a lot of flannel and guns in town so that is cool. One of the big shots locally is named Grant Grant. He is married to a beautiful local teacher named Starla. One night when she rejects his advances, he hits a bar and then wanders into the woods where he is attacked and taken over by an alien worm. This slowly mutates him into a monster that while still retaining some of Grant’s memories and insecurities also gives him an overwhelming urge to either consume or control everything living in town, both human and animal. Against him are a few survivors including local lawman Bill Pardy, Starla, Mayor MacReady, and a couple others. It is up to them to stop the menace before it can expand beyond town and destroy all life on Earth. This all leads to an explosive finale.

I was one of the people who went to see this on opening weekend, and I loved it! Though according to my research, I was apparently one of the few who did go see it in the theater. For this review I checked on the box office and was shocked to realize how poorly that it did. I knew it wasn’t a hit, but this actually flopped horribly. That annoys me because Slither is one of the best monster movies of the last twenty years and I plan on proving that to you with this review.

First the cast and crew are excellent. Nathan Fillion is really good portraying Bill Pardy with the same self-deferential charm that would serve him well in later roles like Castle. He has some very funny lines and can also believably pull off the action sequences. Elizabeth Banks is great as Starla delivering some serious dialogue in over the top silly situations. Though the best performance comes from Michael Rooker, who spends a lot of the movie under a ton of makeup effects. He is both sympathetic and scary as a man struggling with the changes happening to him. Director James Gunn also brings an appreciation of the genre as well as a wicked sense of humor to the proceedings, both of which were nice to see.

Speaking of humor this movie is chocked full of great dialogue. From Pardy admitting that he is going to change the encounter with the alien possessed deer to make him the hero to the family fun day line there is some very quotable gold in Slither. My favorite line has to do when they see a person absorbed by the Grant monster blob and Pardy dropping the classic, “Well, now that is some fucked up shit.” Between the writing, line delivery, and timing from the cast there is a lot to enjoy, but let’s not forget that this is still a horror movie about an alien invasion. Which of course leads me to the next discussion.

Slug attack!
It is time to talk effects, gore and kills. In addition to the funny bits Slither also gives you about everything you could want in the way of special effects work. There are hundreds of worms that come popping out of a bloated woman that Grant used as an incubator for his alien brood. When she pops they come out like a tidal wave. This leads to a lot of slug attacks as they are squirming down throats and taking up residence in brains. Early on they have a cool effect that looks like an x-ray that follows the first alien as it possesses Grant. We get to watch it shoot up his spinal cord and take over. We also get people split in half, guts hitting the ground, more than one headshot, acid getting spit at people, and of course the creature design on Grant. A lot of this stuff is digital, but it looks decent enough. We do get some practical gags along the way as well. There is a lot to appreciate here and I can’t think of a single scene or gag that isn’t pulled off.

Great cast, dialogue, director, special effects, and kills make for a fun movie. Why didn’t Slither find an audience? Is it because they released it in March rather than October? Were people not interested in a rated R creature feature? It confuses the heck out of me because this was and is a great movie. My only consolation is that fans have found it in the decade plus since its initial theatrical run. If you haven’t discovered the awesomeness of Slither yet go get yourself a copy. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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