Review By: Staff
In combining the comedy and the horror genre, one would assume that they would make comfortable bedfellows. They both produce extreme reactions, both can rely on absurdities and both have been constant mainstays of the box office in the past year. But, the comedy-horror subgenre isn't as easy to get right as you'd think. For every Tremors, there's a Vampire In Brooklyn. So when Slither was released back in March, no one was quite sure what to expect and the result was a paltry $7 million gross.
For once, it was a horror movie which won over the critics. In fact it was universally praised. But I believe it fell foul of the Snakes on a Plane curse which later hit in the Summer. That was another comedy-horror and like Slither it was well-received by critics. But both films stumbled at the box office. I think many just simply didn't get the joke. The fact that both were tongue-in-cheek and ironic just didn't play to mass audiences. The average viewer would have seen the trailer for Slither and said 'well, that looks kinda stupid'.
Slither plays like a B-movie, embracing its goofiness and wearing its gooey, slimey battered heart on its bloody sleeve. It tells the tale of a small town under attack from an alien, one which infects people and is intent on domination. So, it's up to the local sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) to make sure his town stays American and kills these nasty newcomers.
It really is that simple and for once such simplicity is hugely refreshing. I first saw Slither in a movie theatre earlier in the year and was impressed, if not bowled over. But with a second viewing I can finally appreciate it for what it is. Slither didn't belong on the big screen. This is a film to be watched on a flickering TV, late at night with a big bowl of buttery popcorn.
Writer/director James Gunn admits he wanted to make the kind of monster movie he grew up on in the 1980's and the film is full of affectionate references to horror classics. This is a film made by someone who loves films and it really does make a difference. So many horror films are churned out these days by passionless directors who simply want to earn a cheap buck. Slither is full of love and is made because of the greatest reason to make a film: because it's a film the makers would watch themselves.
As the film is backed by Universal, Slither stands out from most monster movies for it's impressive budget. The effects are gruesomely real and the gore is as full-on as a horror fan would expect. There are some stomach-churning moments but it never gets as nasty as recent horror films such as Hostel and Saw III because
What Slither doesn't manage to do is retain the humor all the way through in a skillful way. It's brought up and abandoned at different points, never quite deciding if it wants to be a comedy or a horror when it should be trying to be both simultaneously. The comedy-horror genre is so hard to master and Gunn just falls short of getting it perfect.
The DVD is packed to the brim with extras, even if some are rather redundant. We get Deleted Scenes, Extended Scenes, a depressingly unfunny Gag Reel, Feature Commentary with Director James Gunn and Actor Nathan Fillion and a ton of Featurettes exploring the gore of the film mostly. There is one which tells you to how make convincing movie blood which is fun but a lot of them play like private jokes among the cast that we, the viewer don't really get.
Although Slither never manages to get the balance completely right, it's so much fun and done with so much enthusiasm that it doesn't really matter. Away from the grim reality of many horror movies today, Slither is a breath of putrid, decaying air. A B-Movie loud and proud, it will hopefully find the audience it deserves on DVD and TV.
Movie Grade: B
DVD Features Grade: B
Overall Grade: B