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Slither Review

Sexually frustrated after another night of unrequited lovin’ from his wife Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) heads to the local pub and later stumbles upon Pandora’s Box in the woods when he fiddles with a slug-like creature. Turns out this “thing” has landed from outer space and it spews its venom into his body turning him into a monster on the prowl. At first he only lusts after red meat but soon only human blood will do. Before long he’s “infected” several townsfolk with plans to get everyone but his wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) has so far eluded him. She joins forces with a brave policeman (Nathan Fillion) his fledgling staff and a foul-mouthed mayor (Gregg Henry) on a mission to cut the zombies off at the source. But she has conflicting interests between the sexual tension she feels for the hunky officer whom she’s known since childhood and her lifelong vow–in health and in sickness–to her mutant hubby. The lack of star power in Slither lends so much to its gleeful B-movie sensibilities yet these actors are far from second-rate. The most deserving of praise might be the casting director for assembling a sublime bunch of misfits. Character actor Rooker perhaps still best known for 1993’s Cliffhanger goes from a lovelorn husband to a warts-and-all monster. Neither an easy nor flattering task he succeeds in blending the funny with the nasty a noteworthy trend accomplished by the entire ensemble. As the woman who literally married a monster  Banks’ (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) princess of a young wife is aghast at the thought of aiding the hunt for her “squid-looking” husband. She allows that notion to play out as funnily as it sounds while maintaining her southern-belle beauty. And Fillion (Serenity) serves up the classic “hero” character with a twist: humiliation along the way to try and save the er night. He does humiliation well. While it might not feel quite right in proclaiming this Slither is actually a true achievement in filmmaking from writer-director James Gunn. He blends the disparate comedy and horror elements very succinctly even when such a dangerous mixture is always at risk of being too campy. Seamlessly transitioning from one element to the next is hard enough with today’s audiences just dying to nit-pick and laugh at awkwardness. But Slither‘s comedy is amazingly laugh-out-loud sardonic and straightforward while the horror is startlingly gory intense–and scream-out-loud. The director also uses just the right amount of technology to place Slither somewhere between a hypothetical ‘80s B-movie and say War of the Worlds and by refusing to take itself seriously–even in the most grisly of scenes–Slither is effectively rendered un-spoofable. In other words Gunn makes this horror-com his own.

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