starring Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks
written & directed by James Gunn
Universal Pictures (2006)
Slugs, man. They ain't exactly what I'd call frightening, but they're damned disgusting when you look at them up close. And I'm one of those people who don't take well to picking up slimy critters, either. Leave 'em in the muck, I say.
So, when Slither came out a few years ago, it instantly had a creepy vibe going for it. Whether it'd be any good, that was a different question.
I think the saving grace for the movie was that it didn't take itself too seriously. It managed to provide plenty of scares throughout, a good mix of those jump scares and drawn out "oh no" moments. On top of that though, there was a witty undertone to a lot of the story, which avoided becoming all out parody or slapstick. I've always asserted that finding the right balance of humor and horror is a precarious act. These guys pulled it off, thankfully.
It's a small farm town chock-full of those colorful rural characters you so often see when Hollywood depicts the small town Midwest. The ones who take front stage at least hold a measure of charm, thanks largely to the performances from the likes of Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, and Michael Rooker.
A small meteor hits Earth and out crawls the slimiest overgrown slug I've seen on film. It's about the size of a house cat, and if you've seen some of those nature videos where they've shown those giant snails then you get the picture. One of the locals Grant (Rooker), a cradle-robbing curmudgeon, spies it while out in the woods with a drunkenly affectionate gal. Now this is one of the early scenes where you're tempted to shout at the screen, "Don't do that, man!", or something like that, as he starts edging up to it like he wants to poke at it with a stick. Well, he gets stuck himself for all his curiosity--and we're off to the races. Grant becomes infected by one of the parasites and slowly transforms into a monster, meanwhile the slugs are spreading through town to find more victims.
The movie just carries the kind of charm you'd expect from a horror movie made by horror fans. Despite the gross-out moments, it's got an irresistible humor. Grant Henry playing the lovable, asshole mayor MacReady steals more than one scene, and Fillion carries the lead role well as Sheriff Pardy with that kind of early Shatner charisma.
The effects are good, but are a bit dated in a couple of scenes. CGI slugs will do that, though. Overall, it's really put together well. If you want a fun monster flick with some laughs peppered throughout, I'd say this a good one to go with. Find Tremors starring Kevin Bacon and make it a double creature feature.