April 5, 2006 -- I used to like horror films, but not now. I usually don't go to see them, but I decided to check this one out because it was getting such good reviews. I have to admit “Slither” is a cut above (heh heh) most horror films. It makes effective use of humor and numerous references to its many predecessors in this cheesy genre.
Written and directed by James Gunn (“Dawn of the Dead”), the plot understandably has some similarities to the recently revived zombie sub-genre. A man walking in the woods comes upon a meteorite that contains a slug-like creature. Upon approaching the creature (bad idea!), he is attacked by a stinger-like projectile which penetrates his body and takes over his mind. He becomes and alien creature bent on conquering the world. The meteorite bit, of course, is a direct copy of a scene from “The Blob” which also featured a meteorite-born creature.
The film also features slug-like creatures who crawl into people's mouths (as opposed to the more disgusting entry in “Dreamcatcher”). These creatures take over their hosts, who act like remote-control entities on behalf of the main creature. In one of the movie's grossest sequences, the main creature “impregnates” a woman who becomes a meat-eating breeder for the slug-like creatures. The whole process is disgusting in an over-the-top sickly comic way. In another scene, a man is literally split in half. The main creature, amoeba-like, absorbs people and grows into a giant, deformed blob vaguely similar to Jabba the Hut. The movie oozes with lots of slime. I am very thankful this film does not feature smell-o-vision.
Unexpectedly, the main creature (played by Michael Rooker of “Replicant”) retains some of his humanity throughout the process. Rather than being completely controlled by the alien, his love for his wife, Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks of “The 40 Year Old Virgin”) continues. In fact, his personality is transferred to all of his remote-controlled zombies, who eerily profess their love for Starla simultaneously. Opposing this monstrous invasion of a small rural city is the local police chief, Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion of “Serenity”), who is carrying a torch for Starla. Assisted by his deputies and the city's foul-mouthed mayor, Jack MacReady (Gregg Henry) goes to war with a billion-year-old destroyer of worlds.
The film is a throwback to science-fiction and horror films dating back to the middle of the last century, such as “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and “The Puppet Masters,” but it is more self-aware, almost like the horror satire “Scream.” Although the film does have a comic element, it is also scary and suspenseful. I found myself on the edge of my seat a few times. There is a bit of film at the very end of the credits that sets up a possible sequel. This movie rates a C+.
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