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Friday Film Review: Slither (2007), A Conversational Piece

Conversational Film Review: Silther (2007)
Genre: horror comedy
Reviewers: Jaili and Dionne Galace (a.k.a. Bam)

I asked Bam if she would do a conversational review with me. Without a blink, she agreed. She even did an awesome summary:

Slither (2007) is a splatter-horror and dark comedy about a beautiful, hapless schoolteacher Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks) and her husband, the small town’s wealthiest douchebag and the unfortunately named Grant Grant (Michael Rooker), who falls prey to the mind-altering alien slug that burrows itself into his chest after he pokes it with a stick while out for a moonlight stroll with the town slut, Brenda.

In the light of the morning, Starla feels guilty for being a bad wife and attempts to make it up to Grant by seducing him to the tune of "Every Woman in the World" by Air Supply, but Grant returns from his evening walk… changed. Suddenly, he’s a little more aggressive, ravishing Starla senseless. And then there’s his unyielding appetite meat, the bulk of which he buys from the local grocery store and the rest he takes from his neighbors and by that I mean their pets. He stocks his meat supply in the basement and puts a giant lock on the door, telling Starla not to open it because he is hiding her anniversary present in there.

I bet by now you’re wondering where the delicious Nathan Fillion comes in. Well, what’s a small town without an aw-shucks, salt-of-the-earth sheriff with a rakish grin and a secret, unrequited love for the beautiful schoolteacher? Fillion is charming as Bill Pardy, the aforementioned sheriff in a town with no crime or evil-doer to bust, except for the mayor who gets belligerently drunk and cusses at the townsfolk.

He spends his work hours sitting in a squad car with his trusty deputy waiting to catch speed demons. In fact, he is napping in his car with his hat over his face when the meteor carrying the alien slugs streaks across the sky and lands in the woods.

When Grant mutates into a giant squid and the townsfolk turn into zombies controlled by the slugs that have managed to shove themselves down their throats, Sheriff Pardy finds himself bemused and ill-equipped to deal with the madness.

Backed by the gun-toting rednecks he had deputized to help him fight the monsters and the drunken mayor who invites himself to the hunting party, Bill Pardy struggles to save the town… and Starla!

Jaili: When Slither was released I thought it was just a B-movie, so I ignored it. Last year a friend lent me Slither DVD and ordered me to watch it. At this point I should admit I wasn’t a fan of Fillion. I loved Firefly. I even loved Serenity, but that is because it features my all-time favourite actors, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

With that in mind, I didn’t have high expectations for Slither. In fact I settled in for a spot of ‘Aw, look! How far Nathan Fillon has fallen!” but ended up loving it. And you know, it’s a Harlequin romance. Or rather, a Harlequin Romance’s Night Out to Dorky Horrorland. I didn’t expect that at all. Did you?

Bam: I have to say that I’ve always seen Fillion as a romantic lead, so I did expect the whole Harlequin small-town romance aspect of it. I think it would have been a wasted opportunity if director James Gunn didn’t exploit that angle, which he did.

Starla was married to Grant and she married him ’cause he was a successful business owner. Well, she was poor and she didn’t want to be poor anymore. It was implied that Grant “rescued” her. Sheriff Bill was in love with her and it was implied they had some kind of flirtation when they were younger, but Starla was more interested in “getting out”.

Jaili: Starla made a speech about sticking by Grant when he was a monster.

Bam: I think Starla felt guilty that she wasn’t being a better wife. She knew she didn’t love Grant but since she had “small-town values” she had to stick with him because that was what a good wife did.

Jaili: I didn’t pick up on that, actually. Because I remember they had a very affectionate relationship at the start.

Bam: Starla had a “little girl” crush on Grant at the beginning, impressed by his Cadillac and his big house.

Jaili: Ooh, good point. I remember Sheriff Bill did all these things trying to impress Starla, ranging from displays of bravado to getting the schoolgirl to tell Starla that Sheriff Bill saved her.

Bam: Yes, exactly! Well, it’s apparent that Sheriff Bill came from a nice family while Starla came from the wrong side of the tracks as implied by Kid-Starla sneaking into Kid-Bill’s room to tell him she’s running away to Hollywood to become a star

Jaili: Of course! Yeah Starla wanted him to be her bodyguard. And he called the police instead. (laughing)

Bam: And let’s not forget Grant had to work on the night of the Moose Dance, leaving Starla to go by herself and then Sheriff Bill Pardy asks her to dance.

Jaili: Here lie the stars above their heads…

Bam: Seriously, it’s a frickin’ Harlequin American Romance.

Jaili: Yeah, definitely. Tormented heroine, hero with a serious case of unrequited love, token schoolgirl, husband whom the heroine doesn’t really love, and the secret guilt she carries. Oh, and let’s not forget the town slut.

Bam: Oh, but she definitely gets hers! What do you think makes Starla a typical romance heroine?

Jaili: What you said as well as martyrdom, guilt, serious attempt to take marriage vows seriously, to the point where she doesn’t flinch that her husband turns into something she no longer recognises. She’s a former beauty pageant queen and a school teacher, to boot. What’s your favourite moment of the film?

Bam:

[Bill, Margaret and Trevor spot Grant and Starla getting into a car]

Trevor: That’s one match I’ll never get.

Margaret: [zipping Gina Kid's jacket up] Ain’t no mystery. Starla was raised in them shanties off St. Luke, dirt poor. All she ever wanted was to be a lady. Ol’ Grant Grant, he’s always been made of green.

Trevor: Gold digger, huh?

Bill Pardy: Oh, hell, Margaret! Starla’s mother left her, her daddy’s a drunk, she was 17 years old. Ol’ Grant pulls up in a big ol’ Cadillac, house on the hill, and college tuition? What would you do?

Margaret: [Lifting a handkerchief to Gina Kid's nose] Blow.

Bill Pardy: Hell, if he had a ‘gina, you’d'a married him, too.

Gina Kid: What’s a “‘gina”?

Bill Pardy: [after an awkward pause] It’s a country. You know, where “Ginese” people come from. Learn to eavesdrop better.

Jaili: Oh yeah, that had me laughing out loud. That’s what I didn’t expect from Slither: it’s funny! Did you expect that?

Bam: Well, I expected grossness definitely because James Gunn is a Troma alum… as for the funny parts, I knew Nathan Fillion has a bang-on comedic timing, so the zings were going to come fast and furious. What I didn’t expect, now that I think about it, was how much I was going to enjoy it.

As a fangirl, you go into these things to see your favorite actor or a movie by your favorite director and you’re thinking you’re probably going to enjoy it anyway because you’re a fan, but even if I weren’t, it’s just a genuinely funny, fun movie. I enjoyed it so much I would have enjoyed it even if I weren’t a fan.

Jaili: I only knew director James Gunn as a scriptwriter. He’s written Dawn of the Dead and Scooby Doo, so I didn’t have any good expectations, let alone expect it to be funny. Or romantic in a skewed way.

Bam: See, for me, I don’t know. Maybe I liked it so much because I really like Nathan Fillion. lol.

Jaili: Like I said, Fillion is nothing to me. I like the man, but not enough to be a fangirl like you.

Bam: Exactly! I think a fangirl would definitely view this movie differently, but I’ve never met anyone who didn’t fall down laughing while watching it.

Jaili: It was a friend’s vow to kill me if I didn’t watch Slither. Even though I’m not a fangirl, I really liked Fillion in this film. He came off a very likeable, witty bloke. A very dashing hero, too.

Bam: What I really appreciated was all the references to previous horror films. it was obvious that Gunn really respected the films he was paying an homage to. The name of the mayor is Jack McReady, which is a tribute to RJ McReady from John Carpenter’s The Thing.

Jaili: That’s one thing I liked about Slither; a lot of inside jokes and respectful references. What type of romance readers would enjoy watching this film? Aside Fillion fangirls?

Bam: I think as a romance reader you’d definitely enjoy it if you enjoy the unrequited love trope where the guy finally gets the girl.

Jaili: How would you rate the gruesome parts?

Bam: Well, let’s just say that James Gunn does not scrimp at all on the red stuff, since he’s a Troma alum after all. Troma, after all, is famous for The Toxic Avenger and other low-budget splatter films

Jaili: There is ‘this is meant to scare you’ and there is ‘this is meant to make you laugh’. Slither belongs to the latter.

Bam: Since you’re not a Fillion fangirl, what did you enjoy about it the most?

Jaili: Humour, no doubt. And believe it or not, Nathan Fillion. His performance, his charm and great sense of comic timing sucked me in.

Bam: I think what is very obvious in Slither is that everyone enjoyed making the film. You can tell when someone is just slumming it, but Slither is a labor of love

Jaili: That’s what made the film for me; the clear enjoyment of the cast in making this film.

Bam: And I have to say, it’s definitely made for genre fans

Jaili: But I think it would appeal to non-genre fans as well. They might not catch inside jokes, but I think they’ll still enjoy the ride. It’s so tongue-in-cheek that you cannot help but like it. What grade would you give Slither? It gets a B+ from me.

Bam: For a fangirl, A+++, but for a casual viewer, B. it’s a lot of fun, but it’s a “B-movie” after all. ha ha ha. It’s definitely a good cuddle-together-in-the-dark movie.

21 Comments

  1. Heather Massey
    May 29, 2009 @ 06:26:00

    This movie is such an underrated gem. It gave refreshing new life to the Air Supply Song. Thanks for taking me back!

    ReplyReply

  2. Kalen Hughes
    May 29, 2009 @ 08:14:48

    I love this movie. It’s a hoot, and with Fillion, what’s not to love? He’s not exactly handsome, but there’s just something about him. He has a humor to him that appeals to me.

    Chiwetel Ejiofor. Oh, yeeeeeeeeeeah. Kinky Boots! I think the speach about Red is one of the best soliloquy evah. And the fact that he played Lola in Kinky Boots and the Agent in Serenity in the same year just makes it even better. Any man who can strut around in 8″ fuckme boots is a man I want to know better . . .

    ReplyReply

  3. Maili
    May 29, 2009 @ 08:58:41

    @Heather
    It’s underrated, I agree! Your thanks belong to Bam because she chose the film to review.

    @Kalen
    Yeah, Fillion has some charisma. I’ll (begrudgingly) give him that. Chiwetel, on the other hand, has loads! He’s a rarity by being an excellent character actor and having”film presence. I should re-watch Kinky Boots. Haven’t seen it for ages. Thanks for mentioning it. :D

    (Some of you might recognise Chiwetel from Love, Actually as Peter, the half of a couple with Keira Knightley as Juliet.)

    ReplyReply

  4. Kathryn Smith
    May 29, 2009 @ 09:29:32

    Thanks for the review! You’ve sold me. I’ve heard great things about this movie and now I’m convinced I must see it. Love me some Fillion!

    And Kinky Boots is a fabulous movie! Chiwetel is fabulous in it — and under used in Love, Actually.

    ReplyReply

  5. BookBoor
    May 29, 2009 @ 09:31:06

    I love Captain Tightpants (Nathan Fillion) in just about everything. I keep hoping that something will catapult him to superstardom, but maybe he is meant to be savored in the many underrated gems he’s been in so far.

    My favorite lines from Slither:

    Bill Pardy: Hell, if he had a ‘gina, you’d'a married him, too.
    Kid: What’s a “‘gina”?
    Bill Pardy: [after an awkward pause] It’s a country. You know, where “Ginese” people come from. Learn to eavesdrop better.

    Chiwetel is also one of those Brits that can do a seamless American accent. The kind where when you hear them speak in an interview you’re startled by their normal accent!

    He was great in American Gangster too.

    ReplyReply

  6. Zoe Archer
    May 29, 2009 @ 10:14:35

    But…I’m squeamish! Really, really squeamish! Can I handle this film?

    And I loves me some Chiwetel, too. I’m using him as inspiration for the hero in my latest WIP. And I put a pair of spectacles on him. Yum.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jessa Slade
    May 29, 2009 @ 11:13:32

    Zoe, you will be disgusted by this film (giant slugs and explosions, ’nuff said)… and you will love every minute. But if ever you were going to heroine-up, do it for this movie, especially since you have a Chiwetel-based hero in spectacles.

    I thought the characters were all wonderful and the pacing was excellent. Sometimes I find my attention wandering in these spatterfunfests, but not this time. Slither reminded me of Tremors, with Kevin Bacon. Same kind of great humor and horror blend.

    I didn’t catch the Harlequin through a glass darkly angle, but now that you point it out… Ha.

    ReplyReply

  8. bam
    May 29, 2009 @ 11:30:25

    I thought it was kind of funny that the slugs would enter their would-be hosts by forcing themselves down the victim’s throat.

    Oh, and during the bathtub scene where the girl was relaxing in the bubbles, oblivious to the slugs crawling all over her house and heading for the tub… I had my hands clapped over my eyes and I was muttering, “oh, god, oh god, please don’t… please not in the ‘gina.”

    Speaking of which, you guys should check out this horrible movie called Jack Frost where the snowman assaults Shannon Elizabeth in the tub and uh… well, he had this carrot…

    ReplyReply

  9. Dionne Galace » Blog Archive » Y’all Want Some Slither?
    May 29, 2009 @ 11:34:47

    [...] folks, I have a duet movie review on Dear Author today with my horror movie soulmate, Maili (a.k.a. Jaili). Be sure to check it out! Slither (2007) [...]

  10. Kalen Hughes
    May 29, 2009 @ 11:36:56

    And Kinky Boots is a fabulous movie! Chiwetel is fabulous in it -’ and under used in Love, Actually.

    He was wasted in Love, Actually, but then so was the rest of the cast IMO. I think I’m one of the few women in the world that didn’t like that film (one of the other ones being my best friend who I saw it with). I was depressed and annoyed when the credits ran. The only two couples I actually cared about had a crappy ending (Sarah/Karl) or an unresolved one (Harry/Karen). *blech*

    ReplyReply

  11. Maili
    May 29, 2009 @ 12:31:09

    @Kathryn Smith
    Please do let us know what you thought of Slither when you have the time. Yeah, Chitwetel was underused. I think everyone in the film was, actually. Then again, I didn’t like Love, Actually. And Four Weddings & a Funeral as well, but that’s probably because I felt Andie MacDowell was miscast.

    Come to think of it, I didn’t like Notting Hill, either. Must be Hugh “The Faux Floppy Fringe” Grant then, because he appeared in all these three films. The only Hugh Grant films I liked were The Bengali Night, Maurice, White Mischief, Impromptu, and perhaps, About a Boy. The rest? Blegh. Ahem, sorry for going off the track.

    @BookBoor

    Captain Tightpants? (laughing) What a great nickname. I was never sure if Chiwetel did a good American accent. Nice to hear it confirmed. Yeah, he was great in American Gangster. It’s a great film. It reminded me why Russell Crowe was a good actor as well.

    @Zoe Archer
    Squeamish? By blood or creepy-looking creatures? Slither has both, but in sense of ‘Ew, that’s disgu…oh, my god! Hahaha!” Similar to The Evil Dead.

    But if you’re that squeamish, don’t watch it. Watch something else like…let’s think…for Nathan Fillion: Waitress, or for Chiwetel: Inside Man – a fun bank heist thriller. It has Clive Owen. Actually, Owen & Chitwetel appeared in a film again, Children of Men, but do watch Inside Man.

    And please let me know when your ‘Chiwetel in glasses’ book is ready to be released.

    @Jessa Slade
    Oh, that’s a good comparison! I agree, it’s similar to Tremors (oh, Fred Ward…). Thanks. I’ll re-watch Tremors. It’s been ages. :D

    @bam
    I’ll pretend I didn’t read that bit about Jack Frost because I haven’t seen it yet and the picture you drew is a bit… dodgy.

    ReplyReply

  12. FD
    May 29, 2009 @ 13:18:23

    @Kalen Hughes

    Omg, no, you are SO not the only person who reacted like that to the movie.

    I pretty much loathed all the characters and alternated between wanting to slap them, shake them or read them the riot act. It got to the end and I was like, “that’s supposed to be a romantic movie?”

    ReplyReply

  13. MichelleR
    May 29, 2009 @ 13:19:57

    Captain Tightpants is on Twitter.

    http://twitter.com/NathanFillion

    I so, so love him.

    ReplyReply

  14. Kalen Hughes
    May 29, 2009 @ 13:55:53

    I pretty much loathed all the characters and alternated between wanting to slap them, shake them or read them the riot act. It got to the end and I was like, “that's supposed to be a romantic movie?”

    Then again, I didn't like Love, Actually.

    I new I loved this blog for a reason. People who share my *very* subjective tastes, LOL!

    ReplyReply

  15. Lizzie (greeneyed fem)
    May 29, 2009 @ 15:00:28

    I LOVE Slither, but for non-genre fans, be warned — between the fun and the funny and the scares and the AWESOME performances, it is VERY gross. Lots of exploding, swollen flesh, etc.

    I read an interview (or maybe it was a DVD extra?) with James Gunn where he talked about the movie becoming a version of King Kong by the end — Grant Grant turned into a monster, but still remembered what it was like to love Starla — and for the first time in his/its (it being the alien that Grant became host to) existence, it felt a human emotion — something close to love. Anyway, that emotional aspect stayed with me more than the romance between Pardy and Starla. And I love both Elizabeth Banks and Nathan Fillion.

    Other fave quotes:

    “Bitch is hardcore.”

    Also McReady’s rant in the car about Mr. Pibb.

    ReplyReply

  16. likari (LindaR)
    May 29, 2009 @ 17:04:22

    oh, this movie is so funny!

    For the squeamish, don’t worry. It’s funny gross, not sickening gross. I agree, it’s got a kooky bent like Tremors.

    Thanks for reviewing this! Now I want to watch it again. Nathan Fillion was good, but because of this movie, now if I see Elizabeth Banks is in a movie, I’ll give it a try too.

    ReplyReply

  17. Ron
    May 31, 2009 @ 12:06:10

    I second to the review loved the film a lot. Highly recommended.

    ReplyReply

  18. Maili
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 08:34:07

    @Lizzie (greeneyed fem)
    Thanks so much for the heads up on James Gunn’s comment. Could you track down the interview? If it’s on DVD, I’ll rent it again. Thanks. I second your favourite moment (McReady's rant in the car about Mr. Pibb).

    @likari (LindaR)
    It seems we have a similar taste. Please share your list of favourite films some day!

    @Ron
    Cheers!

    ReplyReply

  19. Lizzie (greeneyed fem)
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 18:53:05

    Maili, I’ve thought about it and I’m pretty sure it was on the DVD extras — I netflixed it, so I don’t have it with me to check, but in my head, I’m hearing it over some behind-the-scenes images, rather than reading it. And I’m not sure where I would have read it, anyway. So I think it’s on the DVD.

    ReplyReply

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  21. Horror Movie Medication
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 10:49:07

    Great review. I totally agree with you. This movie had a great script that was pulled off wonderfully by some great actors. They were able to be serious without being so serious to kill the humor.

    I think this movie plays an important role in the horror genre beyond just another zombie/alien flick. I call it the King of the B-Reels.

    I go into more depth in my own review. If you have time you should check it out and tell me if my ideas hold up.

    http://horrormoviemedication.blogspot.com/2013/02/slither-a-quality-b-film.html

    ReplyReply

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