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Slither: Some F’ed Up Sh*t

September 12, 2009

What happens to a faithful, devoted husband when his gorgeous wife would rather sleep than make love?  Writer/Director James Gunn aims to study the psychological storm that takes place within one man’s rejected psyche in the 2006 horror/comedy Slither.  Grant Grant has always gotten what he wanted.  Now he’s older, though, and with age comes doubt.  When Starla, his beautiful and much younger wife, denies him his marital rights, Grant embarks on a sexual feeding frenzy beyond all rational comprehension.

It is deer hunting season in Wheelsy, and Hennenlotter’s (Basket Case anyone?) Saddle Lodge is sponsoring the town celebration.  Testosterone levels are high as the townsfolk load their weapons in preparation for the kill.  Grant Grant (Michael Rooker, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) sits at the bar in serious contemplation.  Wondering if his wife still finds him attractive, he sets out to prove “that man should have dominion.”  Stumbling into the woods with casual acquaintance, Brenda, Grant notices a strange object in the clearing.  He pokes it with a stick.

Now harboring an alien life form, or possibly years of sexual frustration, Grant struggles to control his newfound urges.  Feasting at first on raw meat and then the neighborhood puppy, Grant’s urges burst forth as he watches his wife take a steamy shower.  Emerging from his abdomen, two monstrous one eyed snakes take aim at Starla, Elizabeth Banks (Spider-Man, Scrubs).  Startled, Starla catches a glimpse of Grant, who bashfully flees the scene.  Desperate for release, he revisits the ever eager Brenda.

Paying homage to some of the best horror films of years past (Night of the Living Dead, Jaws, Basket Case), Slither at first seems light hearted and fun. Director Gunn keeps things moving with witty dialogue, funny moments, and small town clichés.  Nathan Fillion, as the newly promoted Chief of Police, delivers an understated performance with the perfect blend of serious concern and deadpan humor.

Secretly in love with Starla since high school, Fillion’s character, Bill Pardy, must now track down Grant, the number one suspect in the disappearance of Brenda Gutierrez.  Bill gathers a posse and seeks to intercept “the squid” before he can strike again.  Chief Bill’s partner is the first to spot him, “He looks like something that fell off my dick during the war,” he says.  What comes next is both shocking and delightful.

Monsters (“You ever seen anything like this? Me neither and I watch animal planet all the fuckin’ time”), Zombies (“How can you blame someone for acting according to his nature?), political incorrectness (“I don’t care if you are a lesbo, you don’t deserve this shit!”) and sexual innuendoes (“It tried to get in my mouth; what kind of thing wants you to eat it?”) provide a fast paced feast of delicious proportions.  Amidst the improbable carnage, Gunn provides a dose of hilarious reality through dialogue that constantly rings true.

Too many horror movies, and most movies for that matter, are derailed by dialogue that doesn’t work.  This is where Slither is strongest.  “What are we gonna do now?” Kylie asks.  “Probably turn into one of these fucked up things,” Chief Bill responds.  And after witnessing a truly grotesque anal intrusion, Chief Bill observes, “Well now that is some fucked up shit.”

Combining strong acting with over the top make-up designs, Slither delivers a metaphorical nightmare about the insecurities spawned from years of marriage.  Borrowing from the classic horror tales, Slither is a reminder that a good movie, like a good relationship, must ultimately provide at least 90 minutes of uncontrollable release.  And, I promise, you will sleep just fine once it is over.


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