Sunday, October 10, 2010

30 Days of Fright - 09: Slither

The first series of the TV show Dead Like Me was excellent. The idea of random dead people being pressed into service as grim reapers in order to handle the ever increasing numbers of people dying made for surprisingly entertaining viewing and there were some genuinely funny moments as well as some quite poignant ones as well. Throughout the series, George, the girl all the action was focused on, observed her parents as they dealt with her death and their collapsing marriage. In one episode it was revealed that George’s mother hated the word “Moist”, as she felt it was a dirty word. I don’t think the word “moist” is particularly dirty but I can see where George’s mum was coming from. “Moist” is kinda like an onomatopoeic word, one that sounds like what it means, words like “bang”, “boom”, ”cuckoo”, “slap”, “slurp” and so on. “Moist” isn’t one of those words but it should be. So should “Slither”.

Slither (2006) is set in the town of Wheeley in rural America at the start of deer hunting season. The town is made up of all the usual characters you’d expect, there’s a sleazy foul-mouthed mayor, a hot high school teacher, a tough tycoon, and the down to earth chief of police (played by Nathan Fillion from Firefly). The tycoon, Grant, is married to the hot teacher and the chief of police has a thing for her. The tycoon and the teacher have a fight one night and he heads down to the pub. There he meets a girl from high school who had a crush on him and the two head off into the woods together. There they stumble across a meteorite that had recently hit and had split open. Inside is a creature that attacks Grant, infecting him with a parasite that makes for his brain and takes over his body.

Over the next few days Grant starts acting very strangely, eating lots of raw meat, killing all the neighbourhood pets, and kidnapping the girl who had the crush on him and imprisoning her in a remote barn. His physical condition deteriorates as well, the parasite causing his body to mutate into a squid-like shape, with tentacles and other bits and pieces all over the place. Grant uses the kidnapped girls body to host thousands of the parasites with the intention of infecting the entire town and beyond. Only the chief of police and the rest of the locals stand in his way.

With his lighter the only source of illumination, Mayor Jack picks the absolute worst time to cut the cheese

Slither is a horror-comedy and it’s quite successful on both fronts. As a horror it’s very like every old b-movie where aliens crash to Earth and infect the local population of middleofnowheresville. The scares in Slither depend on gore, of which there is a bit, and disgust as the parasites go for the mouth of their victims. As a comedy, the film depends entirely on Nathan Fillion’s ability to deliver dead-pan one liners and curse – at which he is excellent.

The story is straightforward enough with little to surprise the viewer, except perhaps that some of the people who fall victim to the aliens may not be who you expect. Once the film gets going you never feel that any of the main characters are in any real danger and the ending is a forgone conclusion you see coming from a mile away. That doesn’t stop Slither being enjoyable though as one thing you can never predict is what Fillion is going to say next.

The entire film rests firmly on Fillion’s shoulders and without him it’s doubtful it would have been half as good. His ability to say the word “Fuck” should have netted him an Oscar. However, if you’ve ever seen Firefly then you’ve seen Fillion in Slither as he plays more or less the same character, with roughly the same delivery, mannerisms, and attitude. At no point does his acting ever surprise you. None of the other actors present do much in that line either; Elizabeth Banks as Stella turns up and puts on an accent, Gregg Henry as Jack the mayor has more than a few funny moments, but the only other actor worth mentioning is Michael Rooker as Grant.

Michael Rooker is known for his roles as Rowdy Burns in Days of Thunder, and as Svenning in Mallrats. In all the films I’ve seen him in I’ve had this odd feeling about Michael Rooker and it wasn’t until I sat through Slither last night that I realised what it was. I absolutely hate the sight of the fucker! He’s one of those annoying sacks of shit who play the same “‘ornry sons a bitches” types in every movie he’s cast in that drive me up the fucking wall! In the case of Slither you’re supposed to detest him but that in no way makes it any easier to put up with.

Michael Rooker - I do not like this man.

The presence of Rooker (the bastard) aside, Slither is a good laugh. There are some good one-liners and you will laugh out loud, but you won’t go back to the DVD too often.

One Thumb Up and One Thumb Down for Slither.

"Link" isn't onomatopoeic, does that seem right to you?

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