May 29 2009
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.