7 August 07
Were it not for Nathan Fillion of the Firefly/Serenity series, my wife and I would never have watched Slither last week.
Abashedly, I'll admit I'm glad we did.
Fillion did not disappoint, though I doubt that he made a bundle of money for his starring role in this B-movie. We'd gladly have him back on Serenity for years more of Firefly episodes.
The budget was so slim that the monster effects had to be scaled down to what the production crew could afford. Thus, the nasty little slithery monsters had to attack the victim/survivor of the cover of the DVD on the balcony outside the house, because there were not sufficient funds to pay for the little critters to swarm through her home.
So, what was good about this B-movie? Well, director James Gunn has a sense of humour, and is utterly reverent for some of the masters of this genre, particularly Canadian David Cronenberg.
Allusions to other films are interspersed throughout, including one that we caught - Fillion refuses the hand grenade to a deputized posse member, as he did with Jayne in Firefly (Susan noticed this, I hope I've got it right). Also, the lead character in Cronenberg's The Fly is referenced in a brand name at the supermarket, so the trivia buffs will be delighted.
Gunn prefers the "creepy" to the scary, and he has a fairly deft sense of where to draw the line between these two distinctly different genres. While the aliens take out most community members in the (I presume mythical) town of Wheelsy, it is not through the type of gruesome and mounting body count that typifies slasher movies (which hold no appeal at all for me personally).
Further, the monsters and their attack strategy to conquer planet earth are fairly imaginative, to say the least, and the actors have taken the script and run with it, including some younger children (who did very well at playing "zombies") as well as several established actors, who are clearly quite skilful at their craft. The aliens never advance beyond Wheelsy, because the tiny band of local survivors are ultimately so capable of fending them off.
I would say that I laughed at the various permutations and mating strategies of the lead monster more than at anything else. You have to see his dangling (slithering?) arm and the queen of the colony to understand what I am talking about on this point. May I tell you that the alien beast inhabits the body of a principle actor, and that his obsessive fixation with the previously unresponsive wife of this key character is a source of much of the film's irony. Unfortunately for our alien-inhabited antagonist, I believe that Fillion will get the girl, though the film does not pursue this thread of the story.
Not much more to say about a B-movie of this type. If you're looking for Kurosawa, Antonioni or Bergman - this is not it.
But if you'd like to be provoked to laugh at something that is ultimately light and imaginative, well, it might be worth two hours if you really have nothing at all else to do!