“Slither” could be the most shocking film of 2006.
But it isn’t shocking in the sense that watching a man take a bite out of someone’s wrist is rather unexpected or that you may find it difficult to breathe out of fear of bloody, oozing slugs one day sliding down your throat. Instead, when the lights come up and the slime is washed out of your mind, it is shocking to realize that writer and director James Gunn (“Dawn of the Dead”) was able to quietly sneak a film as eccentric and pointless as “Slither” into theaters.
After making two box office-friendly films, Gunn used his fame to write and direct “Slither,” a horror-parody film about an alien plague that turns a small southern town’s inhabitants into squid-like zombies. The plague comes to Earth as a ball of bubbling ooze that infects a man named Grant Grant (his parents obviously rode the little bus) who later mutates into a monstrous cross between Jabba the Hutt and a squid. The plague then spreads once Grant Grant spawns thousands of slithering minion slugs that may remind you of your grandmother’s meatloaf mixed with rotting liver, cow dung and an overabundance of mucus. It’s up to a cop with natural zombie-killing abilities, played by Nathan Fillion (“Firefly,” “Serenity”), and the wife of Grant Grant, played by Elizabeth Banks (“The 40 Year Old Virgin”), to find a way to stop the slug force and eradicate the plague without having to call in Dustin Hoffman.
If the premise already sounds ridiculous, then watching the plot fall apart and become entirely meaningless won’t be much of a surprise. That is, however, what a horror-parody does; it takes the quirkiest aspects of a horror film and compiles them into an hour and a half of meaningless, foul images mixed with off-the-wall R-rated humor. “Slither” undoubtedly incorporates all of these aspects of the genre, but its balance of actual horror, plot development and comedy is a bit confusing and disproportionate.
Where a film like “Scary Movie” makes its purpose and target audience obvious, “Slither” sometimes can’t decide what kind of film it is. It’s obvious that “Slither” is a parody when Fillion casually asks a woman with thousands of slugs stuffed in her body, “So-what’s going on here?” On the flip side, when the plot does try to develop, there are some large gaps of time lacking any comedy at all.
“Slither,” when seen more as a parody, is a decent comedy that can get a few chuckles out of crowds looking for racy humor. Fillion does well speaking for the audience in completely bizarre moments. With mostly predictable humor, however, Fillion looks less funny than he actually is. Nevertheless, there are a fair amount of occasions in which “Slither” will get its wacky and over-the-top humor across simply because of its crude dialogue and outrageously repulsive “horror.” Listening to the sound of people chewing on dog meat is the gross and somehow mildly entertaining style that Gunn seems to know best. For some, these words alone will make their faces cringe and fold up like an accordion, but there are a surprising number of moviegoers that find great joy and comfort in beholding slugs and blood splattered across a wall.
Luckily for Gunn, producing such an epic film of rather small proportions cost close to nothing to make (a fact made most visible in the film’s visual effects). Yet somehow “Slither” magically found its way to theaters where some audience members come out delighted and others greatly disappointed.
If you enjoy films that don’t take themselves seriously or find “Shaun of the Dead” to be a bellyache of a good time, “Slither” still isn’t worth seeing as soon as possible. If you find that the word “gooey” makes you flinch or wish that all films had a point, hope that “Slither” doesn’t slide out of theaters sluggishly, or else the hype alone may be tempt you to see it.
The Word on the Screen: C+
That’s my word at least. There is going to be a diverse set of opinions out there, but I’m quite sure my review will help you decide.