Saturday, 22 March 2014

Review - Slither (2006 - Dir. James Gunn)



I was secretly quite pleased when this was randomly generated as Nathan Fillion's entry for his FA Cup of actors match against Émilie Dequenne. To be honest though, the odds are stacked against him; Émilie's entry looks pretty decent.



I saw this on its original release and despite the passing of time my opinion of it hasn't changed: it's fun, but ironically lacking in any real meaty goodness to get your teeth into. This is the directorial debut of James Gunn, writer of the Dawn of the Dead remake (not bad nipper), the live action Scooby-Doo (ah well, we'll allow him one mistake) and Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed (ooh, he's pushing it now). 



Bill Pardy (the legendary Nathan Fillion) is a sheriff in a small town that becomes the landing place for a very small meteor. As luck would have it, inside the lump of space rock there's some kind of alien creature that latches on to an unwilling human host. The unlucky victim then proceeds to become rather hungry and has a proboscis or two peep out of their stomach that can make ladies pregnant with lots of lovely cute slugs. The slugs then infect yet more people and what you have is a cross between Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Slugs (obviously) and a zombie film. How bad can that be?



Not bad at all, despite his Scooby-Doo origins. It's a pretty tight B-movie experience that cracks along at a fair old pace. There's never a dull moment. Conversely, there aren't many fantastic moments either. There are a couple of highlights: the naming of the character Grant Grant (which always makes me chuckle) and his obsession with eating meat. Raw meat. Tonnes of raw meat, that is occasionally rancid. Sweet. His desire for meat is up there with your average football supporter at half-time (shame there's no meat content in football pies, just gristle, spinal cords and floor sweepings: gorgeous).



Nathan Fillion is eminently watchable, as he is here, yet its not his greatest role (that would have to go to Serenity in my book). This is down to the writing as it doesn't allow Fillion to be at his wise-cracking best. He does get his fair share of good lines but it's quite telling that the best Fillion action in Slither is in one of the special features where he constantly repeats, "I am Bill Pardy". Okay, it doesn't sound like the greatest of things but you would have to watch it to appreciate it.



Fillion is surrounded by some other accomplished thespians: Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry for two. I still find it hard to accept Michael Rooker as an actor. His performance in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is so great that I can't help thinking that he is a real serial killer and they were just making a documentary of his unsavoury ways. Gregg Henry steals his fair share of scenes as the inappropriate mayor. He basically swears and rants a lot but it is very funny.



Things fall apart in the final third when it starts to resemble a low budget zombie film more than anything else. Gurning people surrounding cars and dragging them out in a shuffling manner hadn't been overdone in 2006 but now it's starting to get a tad tiresome. Luckily, the ending manages to pull it around.



A mention has to go to the special effects which are quite good to say the least. The slugs in particular are really realistic, which is a rarity for CGI creatures. There's even an infested deer that enters the fray, this time it's a practical effect, and it fulfils its comedy role beautifully.  



James Gunn seems to be a director to watch on the basis of this and the excellent Super (I'm really hoping that comes up as Ellen Page's entry in the next round so I can watch it again). He's currently working on Guardians of the Galaxy which looks pretty splendid too. Anyway, it's not about him, it's about our beloved Nathan Fillion. Will this just above average rating be enough to take Fillion into the next round? He is after all facing the might of Émilie Dequenne. We will see very soon...
6/10
evlkeith

If you like this you could also try:
Splinter, Super, The Crazies.



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