SLITHER (James Gunn, 2006)
In SLITHER a meteorite lands unseen in a sleepy small town where the police have little better to do than point the radar gun at a whippoorwill to time how fast it flies. Resident Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) comes across it and has a creature from it penetrate his body. Over a period of days he transforms into a squid-like monster with the sole purpose of changing everyone else into outer space creatures. Grant's wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) doesn't notice any changes in him at first, but when he mutates into a grotesque, tentacled being, she understands that her husband isn't the man she once knew despite his proclamations of marital affection.
Inspired by 50s invasion B-movies and Troma films, SLITHER elicits a fine balance of laughs and armrest-grabbing moments. Writer-director James Gunn aims to disgust and scare, but SLITHER is also very much tongue-in-cheek. Underscoring the humorous nature of the film is FIREFLY and SERENITY star Nathan Fillion as the town sheriff Bill Pardy. Fillion plays the part with a knowing wink. He’s at his finest when the sheriff encounters something he can’t believe he’s seeing or has his best laid plans dashed.
SLITHER utilizes the sick jokes to break the tension. A slug stalks a victim in a bathroom scene that perfectly encapsulates the side-by-side humor and horror. If David Cronenberg’s films haven’t provided enough material for an academic paper about horror movies and body fear, SLITHER’S contribution should make up for the deficit. Gunn, who wrote the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, knows how to frighten an audience. With SLITHER he demonstrates that he can make us laugh at the same time.