I admit I wasn’t expecting much from “Slither”, basically because it looked so utterly cheesy, and in spite of Nathan Fillion’s presence, I just couldn’t find anything that could sell me on it. Surprisingly, I was wrong about it. A basic remake of “Night of the Creeps”, James Gunn’s “Slither” strives to be its own entity, and in many respects he succeeds in attempting such an endeavor. “Slither”, a throwback to fifties B movies with aliens, monsters, and zombies is stupid, and Gunn embraces the stupidity with scenes that are often ridiculous, but I was never bored. “Slither” in its stupidity is also pretty funny, and with the great cast it sports, I accepted the ridiculousness. And even from a Troma alumni like Gunn, I expected stupidity. It’s your usual B movie fodder.
A meteor crashes and lands in a small town, Grant played by Michael Rooker, discovers the meteor, a projectile slug is shot from the egg within the crater, he becomes the incubator and host, and now the towns police are trying to stop him before he continues killing people. From the beginning Gunn’s film has a genuine feel of the fifties camp that has sadly left modern cinema, and he really doesn’t take his creation too seriously, which can be noted by the unabashed odd imagery he instills in every scene. Whether it’s the humongous female host, Rooker’s over the top performance, or the incredibly unscary zombies, “Slither” takes the disadvantages and uses them as advantages to make the sum of the parts much better. “Slither” brings with it a fun mood with some utterly memorable sequences within the carnage and farce.
Gunn’s latest has a great cast of character actors from the always charming Elizabeth Banks as Grant’s put upon wife Darla, unmitigated bad ass Nathan Fillion as the hero Bill who holds a torch for Darla, the hilarious Gregg Henry as the drunken town mayor, Tania Saulnier as Kylie who has a telepathic link with the host, and Michael Rooker as Grant the inadvertent incubator. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself with these actors whom all seem to be having a hell of a time with this utterly morbid situation. But thankfully, “Slither” puts on a harder edge picking up its story halfway in as the slugs make their way through the town infecting, thus unleashing a zombie apocalypse. Gunn adds yet more gruesome imagery with the slugs making their way in to the human hosts brains through the mouth, and watching the zombies feed on humans.
Gunn sadly never takes advantage of the concept or the plot, so “Slither” is never great, just pretty good. Instead of featuring random movie references, and relying on the script for the wit, he’s too dependent on weak sight gags, and vain efforts in promoting the Troma humor. While Troma humor in small doses is tolerable, he too often attempts to sneak it in to the movie, and instead of a horror comedy, it occasionally feels more like a promotional film from a director trying to sell us on a crappy film company. As someone who passionately hates Troma, it felt like a con. And Gunn’s promise with zombies is disappointing as the zombies here really only show up for the climax, and even then it’s not as scary as it could be or should be. He could have given us so much more with the zombies, he could have done so much more with the slugs, and he could have done so much more with the monster, but sadly, he never does.
While Gunn has the right idea, he never fully realizes the potential. There are very good special effects that make for some of the weirdest and freakiest moments here, and Gunn makes great use of his resources never afraid to break out of the formula and explore a different angle, such as the zombies being breeders instead of just lumbering dead bodies, and showing the origin of the alien slugs in an oddly out of place but fascinating scene. Gunn’s script also pokes fun at its own story exploring the more apparent reactions from its characters, and he really pays off the build-up with a very freaky climax that was both moronic and original. Gunn takes some of the Troma sentiment and implants it in to a quality film. It’s nice to know every now and then someone talented is spawned from Troma’s reins. It’s not often that horror movies can be both stupid and fun, but “Slither” pulls it off. Zombies, aliens, comedy, gore, what more can you ask for? In spite of its one-dimensional concept, “Slither” works as a guilty pleasure and was a shit load of fun. I’d never see it again, but it was a good fleeting experience.