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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 309: Slither

At least the slugs will be clean when they crawl inside you

Happy Daylight Savings! Sorry I didn't get you a card. It's always nice to sleep in and then realize you haven't completely wasted half of your day. Having comedy in a horror movie is always a delicate balancing act. The horror has to be able to stand on it's on before comedy even comes into play. If it's the other way around, the horror suffers and you just get a goofy comedy with monsters. Each comedic situation needs to be appropriate and timed correctly. The jokes need to be more than simple slapstick, though the occasional pratfall can be funny. Above all else, you need actors who can be convincing in serious moments as well as genuinely funny in the lighter moments. It's not easy to do, but it's not impossible. It also helps if you have lots of blood, gore, and special effects.

Is this love that I'm feelin'?

Slither is a 2006 horror comedy starring Nathan Fillion as Sheriff Bill Pardy and Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Scrubs) as Starla Grant. In the small town of Wheelsy, North Carolina, local car dealer Grant Grant (Michael Rooker, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, Mallrats) discovers a meteor that crashed in the woods. An alien parasite is freed from the meteor and infects Grant, taking over his body. The newly-infected Grant begins to change, both physically and mentally. He puts a lock on the basement door and soon local pets start to disappear. Grant's wife, Starla is concerned about his health and confides in Bill, her childhood crush. Grant visits Brenda (Brenda James) who was with him when he was initially infected. Under the pretext of sex, Grant infects Brenda using two long tentacles protruding from his chest. He takes her to an empty barn, feeding her the dead pets and other livestock that he has killed, making her swell to gigantic proportions. Grant's physical changes continue, eventually looking like a slug/squid-like creature. Bill gets together a posse to take on Grant when they discover an enormous Brenda. She is literally torn apart, exploding with hundreds of slug-like babies. The slugs infect Bill's posse, reanimating them as zombies with Grant's collective consciousness. Soon, the entire town becomes infected. A teenage girl named Kylie (Tania Saulnier, The Wicker Man, The Invisible) is able to stop her infection, but is able to learn the parasite's history in the process. The parasite goes from world to world, infecting it's inhabitants and procreating. How will Bill, Starla, and Kylie stop Grant before he destroys the entire world?

I love what you've done with the place

Slither manages to include all sorts of horror sub-genres in such a short amount of time. We have zombie horror, viral horror, parasitic horror, body horror, and gore horror just to name a few. Having all of these crammed into one movie is both a good and bad thing. The wide variety allows the movie to appeal to a wider audience. If you like George Romero, you'll appreciate the zombie aspect. If you like David Cronenberg, you'll like Grant's hideous transformation. It keeps the movie from becoming too stagnant and keeps the audience engaged with it's twists and turns. The problem with all of this, though, is that the movie sometimes feels cluttered with too much going on at once. I love zombie movies, but these zombies, tend to come out of nowhere in the middle of the movie. If they appeared a little sooner, it wouldn't have felt as random.

Luckily, the movie has so much action, violence, over-the-top gore that these small complaints didn't really matter. And wow is there a lot of violence and gore, way more than I expected. The special effects and makeup used to show Grant's physical changes are quite good and would make David Cronenberg proud. While the subject matter is serious and the horror is genuine, the movie manages to have some very funny scenes and one-liners. The comedy doesn't dominate the film, allowing the story to play out with just a sprinkling of jokes here and there. The movie knows when to joke and when to back off and allow the horror to progress. Both Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks play their parts very well as they come off as very believable and likable. Michael Rooker is good as well, but that's no surprise. This is director/writer James Gunn's first major Hollywood movie, but you've never suspect it. He does a good job of capturing the horror and does not shy away from violence or the aftermath.

"Welcome to Wal-Mart!"

Slither is a highly entertaining horror movie with just enough genuinely funny comedy to bring in the non-horror fans. There is a little bit of everything in the movie, ranging from zombies and aliens to body transformations and viral plagues. The special effects look great and there is enough violence to fill the next Grand Theft Auto video game. The writing is smart and the direction is solid. Thanks to some very good acting by Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks, a movie that could have been totally goofy, was given a sense of legitimacy while still being fun. If you're looking for a good time full of violence and laughs, definitely check out Slither.


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