Slither (2006)

Slither (2006)

Horror Has a New Face

A meteorite crashes into the woods near the small town of Wheelsy, South Carolina. Grant Grant finds it but is infected by a worm-like parasite which enters his body through his stomach and takes over his brain. It slowly turns him into a slimy monster that impregnates a local woman so that she can spawn a whole batch of the worms to take over more bodies for him to feed on. It is down to his long-suffering wife and the local sheriff to hatch a plan to kill him before the infection spreads across America.

 

Just when you think that all possible scenarios for a small American town to be invaded by aliens have been exhausted, along comes this nifty flick which provides laughs, scares and a whole lot of homaging to older sci-fi and horror films. Whereas today’s horror output seems to be solely based around remakes of 70s shockers like The Hills Have Eyes or ultra-nasty violence fests like Hostel, it’s pleasing to see someone with a genuine love for the cheesy 80s comedy/horrors bring them back into the limelight. After all, there is a huge market for them. Why do people keep remaking the nasty stuff from the 70s when there’s a goldmine of comedy/horrors from the 80s just waiting to be given bigger budgets and sharper writing? James Gunn has seized the chance to capitalise on this and has produced what is arguably the finest comedy/horror monster flick since Tremors.

Slither takes a while to get going it has to be said. I was beginning to get a few doubts about the film about twenty minutes in. However once the slugs get squirming and the town is slowly taken over, the film turns up a notch and never lets up to the end. You may a wear a hole in your cheek with your tongue throughout the duration. You may roll your eyes too many times and get them stuck in your skull. But you’ll be glued to the screen because Slither is so damned engaging. It’s purely light-hearted entertainment – classic cinema popcorn fare if there was ever anymore. It never takes itself seriously enough to be truly scary, despite one or two nervy moments. It never delivers more comedy than a few one-liners or sight gags. But they’re constant and free-flowing.

The cast certainly helps here, with Nathan Fillion providing suitable dead-pan moments and Gregg Henry being a right hoot as the foul-mouthed mayor. Michael Rooker adds trademark menace to the role of Grant Grant and Elizabeth Banks add the glamour as Grant’s long-suffering wife. It’s a solid foursome to lead the charge throughout the film and all do great jobs. Those with weak stomachs may want to look away too. Although the blood and guts in Slither isn’t the violent type you’ll see in Hostel or The Hills Have Eyes, it will still have you squirming in your seat. The worms get pretty messy and don’t really tidy up after themselves. There’s shotgun blasts and an unlucky character gets split in two by Grant in his alien-form. It’s too over-the-top to be frightening but again, just a warning to those who don’t like icky moments. Thankfully the director knows his genre and clearly knows what fans want to see – or in this case, don’t and that is CGI! The worms are CGI but the rest of the effects, from the big gloopy mess that Michael Rooker’s character becomes to the guts spilling out from bodies, are good old fashioned latex and slime. This gives the film an even better throwback factor to the 80s – a real hands-on feel to gore if you will.

Films like this are ‘for the fans, by the fans’ which means a lot of people won’t get it if they haven’t seen any of the films it’s supposed to be paying tribute to. It’s not meant to be serious or groundbreaking, it’s meant to be a homage to the films that the director and many other people grew up on and that just aren’t made anymore by the big studios. It’s silly but that’s not because it’s any lack of ability on the cast or crew’s behalf – it’s meant to be that way. After all, the guys who made this would rather have you laughing with the film, than at it.

However at the end of the day, the film can’t hide what it is and that’s simply a rehash of ideas collated from numerous sources. Despite its trimmings and glossiness, it’s still a place we’ve all been before and does get a little predictable at times. But that’s being a little too harsh on a film which promises a lot and delivers even more.

 

Slither sounds such a worn out and tired rehash of old ideas that it will knock your socks off at how competently written, acted and directed the whole thing is. It’s a breath of fresh air amidst the carnage of remakes, re-imaginings and sadist-obsessed splatter fests.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

 

 

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