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Movie Review: Slither

SlitherI believe some people expect entirely too much from some movies. A viewer should expect nothing from a movie and allow it a fair chance to show you what it’s all about. Otherwise, feel free to be pissed that The Exorcism of Emily Rose turned out to be a crime drama and not the ghost story you were hoping for. That’s merely what you assumed the movie would be and now you’re mad because it failed to match your false assumptions! And we all know what happens when we assume.

I expected nothing more than 90 minutes of entertainment when walking into the theater to watch Slither. The preview piqued my curiosity, being a huge fan of the horror genre, and I was also intrigued to catch Nathan Fillion’s first non-Firefly role. I learned a long time ago to ignore the rants from the stuffy critics as well as raves from drooling fan boys, since I often disagree with both, and simply sat down and gave a simple horror film its opportunity to entertain and amuse. Slither did both.

Synopsis: Alien slugs begin mutating and zombifying Small Town, USA.

Michael Rooker plays the wealthy Grant who is hated by everyone in town, save for his wife. Grant and the missus have a bit of a falling out one night and he storms out on his own. In the woods, Grant encounters a strange, slug-like creature, feels the uncontrollable need to poke it with a stick, is subsequently injected with a parasite, and begins undergoing a series of transformations.

Mrs. Grant notices his strange behavior over the next couple of days and turns to her old flame for help. That old flame is now the town sheriff, played by one Nathan Fillion, who dismisses her concerns; until he sees exactly what Grant has become, that is. Now it’s up to him to figure out exactly how to deal with this monster.

If the synopsis of Slither sounds campy, it’s supposed to. Slither is a modern day tribute to B horror films involving everything from zombies to alien invasions. Taking this into consideration, the logic of the film worked very well. There were no internal contradictions of the sort that often pop up in movies of this kind.

The scary moments were sufficiently tense and the film’s witty dialogue was surprisingly intelligent and funny. Slither also did a fantastic job with its action scenes as well as its gross out scenes. Perhaps the most unexpected part of the movie, for me, was the inclusion of a romantic side plot involving the sheriff and Mrs. Grant. Although this was never more than an occasional aside, it was extremely believable and fleshed out.

Michael Rooker’s role as the mutated Grant was well played; he had a good mix of creepy monster and the struggling humanity underneath. Gregg Henry was also incredible in the part of the reviled town mayor. His was the character I found myself constantly hoping would be the next to die. Finally, Nathan Fillion reminded me why I spent so many hours hooked on Firefly and Serenity. Fillion’s country sheriff was just charming enough to remind me of his lovable rogue from Firefly, while never feeling like he was playing that exact same character. For me, this was one of the most pleasing aspects of the movie. Firefly turned me into a fan of Fillion’s and I was very interested to see him do something else. This man has both talent and range, and mark my words, this man will go places.

The cinematography in this film was adequate; I can’t recall any awful edits or bad camera work but I fail to recall any that were particularly good either. The special effects were just as over the top as they needed to be. Slither did an excellent job with its gross out scenes. Aiming more for slimy than bloody, there were numerous moments in the film when the audience moaned and groaned at the ick on the screen. As much as the ick made our stomachs turn, isn’t that exactly what we were there for anyway?

Overall, Slither was just a good movie. As a horror fan, I wasn’t blown away, yet I wasn’t disappointed either. I laughed, I was grossed out, and I was satisfied with my movie experience. At times I was reminded of everything from Return of the Living Dead to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I would recommend Slither for lovers of campy horror movies, fans of Nathan Fillion, and anyone that can enjoy relatively mindless entertainment. I would not recommend Slither to film snobs or horror fans that want more dread and less humor.

The Upside:
Funny, icky, and Nathan Fillion shows some potential.

The Downside:
If you aren’t a hardcore horror fan or if you desire only the highest quality performances and stories, don’t even bother. Slither plays to a very small niche of movie fans, people that love horror and people that love camp.

On the Side:
Referencing past genre movies, the Mayor is named R.J. MacReady, the same name as Kurt Russell’s character in John Carpenter’s The Thing. The local high school featured is named after Earl Bassett, the lead character in the movie Tremors played by Fred Ward.

Final Grade: C

Film Stats:
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker
Directed by: James Gunn
Writing Credits: James Gunn
Release Date: March 31, 2006
Country: USA
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong horror violence and gore, and language.
Run Time: 95 min.
Studio: Universal
Trailer: Click Here

By Jarvis Mishler, a Staff Writer for Film School Rejects.

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  • http://www.moviesteve.blogspot.com Steve C.

    After that review, the final grade is a C? Jesus. I’d hate to see you after an A — you’d look like that poor guy at the beginning of Scanners.