31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 1: Slither (2006)

Two years ago, I tried to complete a film blogging challenge that I set for myself – to watch and review one horror movie for every day in October. It kind of fell apart halfway through the month; I would be watching movies I’d already seen, and reviewing them the following day. Not this year! (Although at least it’s better than last year, in which I did nothing at all).

Today’s movie and the first of the month was the comedy-horror Slither (2006).

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Knowing absolutely nothing about the movie made every “WTF” moment just that much more “WTF”-worthy. Even the description on Netflix is a bit misleading, implying that possessed animals make up a huge part of the plotline, and may provide an inference that gives away an entire act of the movie. So, if you’re going to watch it on Netflix, ignore the synopsis!

The spoiler-free premise is that Southern, small-town teacher Starla (Elizabeth Banks) notices that her husband Grant (Michael Rooker) is acting a bit weirdly after he storms off for the night, having been sexually rejected by her. Leading the resulting investigations is the town’s sheriff Bill Purdy (Nathan Fillion), who has always had a wee bit of a crush on Starla.

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An early scene shows that Grant’s body has been taken over by an alien parasite, but a fresh twist on this bodysnatching tale comes with the fact that his original mannerisms and speech patterns are still present, sticking with themes of the movie’s first scene (a classroom-based discussion of Darwinian adaptation – humans vs. cockroaches). The resulting antagonists are a series of not-at-all-mindless zombie-like shells with a Borg-like hive mind.

The movie was great. It felt very old-style, very creature-feature-ish, and the relatively small sets of the tiny town/woods/farm setting kept the action refreshingly on the ground, as did the use of practical special effects. There are some moments when, admittedly, CGI is required, and my word, it is…extraordinary.  Acting is nicely decent, even from the bit parts, even if many of the characters are underdeveloped. Probably best not to eat your dinner during any of it, though.

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