Twitter Plot Summary: A meteorite lands in sleepy Americaville and turns its residents into zombie monster things. Nathan Fillion has to stop them.
Director: James Gunn
Key Cast: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, Don Thompson, Gregg Henry, Tania Saulnier.
Five Point Summary:
1. Okay, so you’re just ripping off The Evil Dead there. I like this.
2. Bad karaoke. Oh my.
3. They’ve just pointed out a grenade, randomly. What’s the first rule of scriptwriting? Watch this space.
4. Worms! Why did it have to be worms?!
5. …and that’s why the grenade was shown earlier. Boom!
We’re in a typical sleepy American town in the middle of nowhere, a place where people hunt and shoot animals for fun, a place where – no disrespect to small town America – everybody seems slightly inbred. Maybe that’s the point though, this is a town where mothers show The Toxic Avenger to their baby children, so an invasion from alien parasites is a normal day for these people. When a meteorite crashes in the nearby woods, bringing it with it some strange slithery creatures, soon enough people in the town are taken over by the parasites. Parasites that have a craving for meat (uncooked), of course. It’s only natural therefore that, rather than hunting animals, they go out and hunt the infected, and that’s where the real fun begins.
Gunn stalwart Michael Rooker shows up again, this time with a severe skinhead haircut and his usual penchant for playing unpleasant characters. Except this time he actually isn’t all that bad a person, he’s mostly just unlucky enough to be the one who brings the parasites into town. Nathan Fillion deserves more starring roles, even if he’s playing a slightly less bad-ass version of his Mal Reynolds character from Firefly. Even so, his laidback, world weary sheriff is a highlight. He used to be romantically linked with Elizabeth Bank’s Starla (great name), but she’s now hooked up with Michael Rooker’s Grant Grant (which makes Mario Mario seem like a distant memory and is an even better name than Starla) so any potential romantic shenanigans are dependent on something unpleasant happening to Grant to take him out of the picture. Gregg Henry is excellent as the foul-mouthed mayor, a typical James Gunn creation and adds a much needed frisson amongst our characters. Similarly, Tania Saulnier as Kylie gets quite a bit to do after her entire family is possessed by the parasites, and is the closest the film gets to having a strong female character. Whilst Elizabeth Banks is perhaps a bigger named actor than Saulnier, her character never develops beyond being a dedicated wife, even after Grant mutates into something horrific. Surely after your husband becomes a mutant beast you draw the line? Oh wait, it’s the American south – horrific mutations and eating raw meat are probably “du jour”. (Joking! Before I get any hate mail…)
Effects are solid, a mixture of gruesome-looking practical gubbins and CGI. On occasion the CGI does look a little cheap, but then for a relatively low budget production as this, and the fact it’s an old-school comedy horror movie, you can forgive it a few missteps in the effects department because it more than makes up for it elsewhere. As is typical of a James Gunn script, the story has its own internal logic and maintains that logic from start to finish. The alien parasites have a purpose and a process. The best thing about them is that they mash up some of the best sci-fi/horror tropes of the last fifty years of cinema. The alien parasites spawn creatures that wouldn’t look out of place in The Thing (1982) or the 2011 prequel, erm… also called The Thing.
Slither does borrow liberally from established horror movie lore – the intro spoofs The Evil Dead “Deadite” cam, whilst other scenes lovingly pastiche Invasion of the Body Snatchers, David Cronenberg’s body horror movies, and the sort of alien invasion/zombie movie that Troma are renowned for, but with an actual budget. Throw in a heavy dose of classic zombie action and a wicked sense of humour, and you have Slither. Yes it’s derivative, but it’s a lot of fun all the same. Fans of any of the previously listed films/genres will be well served, for everybody else it’s a toss-up – do you like to see alien worms slipping down people’s throats and zombifying them? If not, you’re probably best sticking with Downton Abbey or something.
Favourite scene: (Spoilers ahoy) The mayor has been infected and begs
Quote: “Grant looks like a squid, don’t know where he’s gonna hide… Seaworld maybe.”
Silly Moment: The worm in the bath. Hilarious.