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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.58%
Worth A Look62.34%
Just Average: 19.48%
Pretty Crappy: 2.6%
Sucks: 0%

7 reviews, 35 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"You've seen it before, but seldom done this well."
5 stars

At some point during the pre-production of "Slither", I imagine James Gunn getting lost walking through the Universal office building. He's supposed to get someone from Rogue Pictures to sign off on his micro-budgeted direct to video horror movie. But, instead, he winds up with the main studio guys, who see his paperwork and absently sign off on it, since it looks legit. Suddenly, he's got a whole bunch of extra money and a decent cast, and he decides to make the most of it.

The story is standard B-movie stuff: Meteor falls to Earth near a small southern town. A couple people off in the woods get killed, and the little slugs that emerge from it wind up inside a local (Michael Rooker), who starts acting weird. Well, weirder; anyone with a name like Grant Grant is going to be unusual to start with. Soon, people and livestock are disappearing, and local sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) is on the case, along with mayor Jack MacReady(Gregg Henry), the wife of the possessed man, Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks), whom Bill has had a crush on since elementary school. They track Grant to the woods behind the Strutemyer farm, where they realize that their problems are decidedly not of this Earth.

Simple stuff, and it could have easily been an unremarkable Sci-Fi channel movie or direct-to-video release, but the cast and crew opts not to mail it in. Sure, Fillion is kind of riffing on his character from Firefly and Serenity, but Mal Reynolds was the best character he ever had, and injecting a lot of him into Bill Pardy is a good thing. Pardy's friendly but occasionally sarcastic, respected and good at his job but able to screw up in believable, human ways. He can also take a line as flat as "that is some fucked-up shit" and get a big laugh from the audience with his delivery. Elizabeth Banks has been kicking around in fun supporting parts for a while (most notably The 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Baxter), and dives head-first into a leading role. Starla's got to be duped in the first act without coming across as stupid (which goes for the whole choosing Grant over Pardy thing, too); we've got to like her enough to want her to survive and survive with Pardy. We do, because her scenes with Fillion warm up from their initial awkwardness as the film goes on, and because we totally buy her when she stops being a vaguely unsatisfied trophy wife and starts kicking some ass.

Meanwhile, Michael Rooker is rather exceptional as Grant. The man's kind of a sleaze even before he gets an alien slug in his gut, but redeemable; afterward, though, he becomes really fun to watch. Alien-Grant has world-threatening menace tempered by the pure joy of discovering sex, and his inherited affection for Starla gives the monster nuance without being a humanizing buzzkill. Bonus snarkiness is provided by Gregg Henry's Mayor MacReady, whose general lousy attitude and hung-over demeanor raises the very interesting question of how he got elected to public office. We also get Tania Saulnier as teenage Strutemyer daughter Kylie, but she's appealing beyond her nubile form and necessary function of being a survivor with useful information.

The scene where she gets that useful information is one of my favorites in the movie, because it's where Gunn makes the threat big, even though it's confined to this small town. There are compromises made for budget reasons with this kind of movie, like how the alien threat tends to become possessed humans with icky makeup and is never seen in a context other than eventually being beat by a group of rednecks or a small army base. Gunn gives us that information visually, in a quick zap to the brain that approximates how Kylie gets it, and it's so much more effective than just telling us. The budget is put to good use, not just in that CGI-heavy scene, but with a bunch of quality practical effects that do gross things to the human body while still giving the actors room to perform.

Slither has its tongue in cheek a lot, but never so much that the film becomes a joke - the comedy is genuine oddness and interaction, not cheap self-referencing. There's a lot of very funny scenes, but just as many that are uncompromisingly creepy and tense. Other times, Gunn and company hit on how encountering the unknown and bizarre can frequently be both at once. The action's as exciting and splattery as one could hope for, and when the good guys take casualties, they are people we've met and grown to like enough that we're mad, even though we know going in that a bunch of these guys are cannon fodder.

That's just good movie-making, there. James Gunn set out to make a fun monster movie, and manages it with nary a hitch. It's movies like "Slither" that make bad popcorn movies so frustrating, because they demonstrate that the genre can be light and fun without being stupid or slapdash.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13976&reviewer=371
originally posted: 05/08/06 11:53:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/08/19 morris campbell icky b-movie fun 4 stars
4/04/13 David Hollingsworth A B-movie classic with actual style 5 stars
9/29/12 roscoe 1st hour is fairly good and humorous, but then the movie is rushed one the town is infected 3 stars
11/07/10 millersxing Are you gonna finish that possum? 4 stars
2/14/10 art IF THIS IS your CUP OF TEA!? 3 stars
12/28/09 Chad Dillon Cooper Throwback to 50's monster movies. 4 stars
7/19/08 Shaun Wallner Great Horror film!! Kept me on the edge of my seat 4 stars
5/25/08 mr.mike Has its moments however its been done better and takes a while to get going. 3 stars
6/10/07 Pork and Beans Pretty good first half, terribly generic second half 2 stars
3/27/07 MP Bartley Awkwardly developed, but mostly gruesome fun. 4 stars
3/20/07 David Pollastrini very creepy 4 stars
1/01/07 Jim Not as funny or as scary as I'd hoped -- several notches under Shaun of the Dead. 3 stars
12/01/06 Indrid Cold Not as fun as I expected, but still not bad. Sorry Firefly fans, but Fillion kinda sucks. 4 stars
11/24/06 Melissa Tokarczyk Funny and campy! 4 stars
11/07/06 Vince Good stuff, higly recommended if you like the genre. 4 stars
10/30/06 ES Night of the creeps meets puppet-masters, jokes fall flat and hardly a fright 3 stars
10/10/06 pete.chesworth Highly watchable fun with great special effects 4 stars
6/07/06 Patti a pretty good movie, I would sugest it to others. 3 stars
5/23/06 Littlepurch Absolutely gross but very enjoyable and occasionally hilarious. 4 stars
5/08/06 y2mckay Tongue-in-cheek horror at it's finest. Fillion and Henry steal the movie. 4 stars
5/05/06 alice Very entertaining ! 4 stars
4/22/06 Mase Fun, diverting, B movie horror comedy. We need more people with a passion for this genre. 4 stars
4/18/06 Dave An okay film, but I've seen better films and also a lot worse. 3 stars
4/17/06 Mark Louis Baumgart Parody of all things Cronenberg & Night/Creeps, a great big sloppy bucket of B movie fun. 5 stars
4/17/06 Gray that is some fucked up shit 4 stars
4/15/06 Ole Man Bourbon One of the creepiest love scenes ever. Felt like I was being raped by the leading man. 4 stars
4/14/06 Steven Lewis A build up to a great second half with homage to the 80s gore and more. 5 stars
4/08/06 BrianWilly Hilarious fun. 5 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych Didn't this movie come out in the 80's..."Night of the Creeps". Rent it!! 3 stars
4/04/06 Crispin How did no one notice the graruitous nipple in the tub scene? 5 stars
4/04/06 jcjs laughed 2 stars
4/03/06 thejames entertaining, and pretty damn funny. 4 stars
4/01/06 malcolm a+ ... for a b movie, a lot of fun 3 stars
4/01/06 lee A big budget Troma movie. 5 stars
3/31/06 KingNeutron Stay till the end of the credits - and hope for an even better sequel! 4 stars
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  31-Mar-2006 (R)
  DVD: 24-Oct-2006



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  James Gunn

Written by
  James Gunn

  Nathan Fillion
  Elizabeth Banks
  Michael Rooker
  Gregg Henry
  Tania Saulnier
  Brenda James

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