I’ve gone ahead and done it, a Michael Rooker trifecta. It started last Tuesday, carried into Friday, and while I could have moved on to many other vault options, I had to get one last fix in. By doing so, I’ve taken a sample of Rooker’s career from the 80’s, 90’s, and the 00’s. And that’s not including his fine work in 1993’s Cliffhanger which we already inducted!
Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) is the rich man around the small town of Wheelsy, SC and the lucky bastard is even married to the prettiest gal in town, Starla (Elizabeth Banks). Grant’s luck runs out when Starla’s cold shoulder sends him from their bed to the local bar then into the woods with another woman. There he comes across a meteorite, and becomes host to the parasite within. He returns home with little more than a hunger for meat that grows insatiable, as does his need to procreate, which he does with the other woman, Brenda (Brenda James). The investigation of Brenda’s disappearance leads Sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) to Grant, and he, Starla, his deputies, and Mayor MacReady (Gregg Henry) squaring off against not against Grant, but something far more vicious… and tentacled.
Billed as a sci-fi-horror-comedy, Slither is the directorial debut of writer James Gunn that didn’t do all that well upon it’s original release. I was one of the few who apparently went to theaters in the USA to watch it, and I found it to be just okay. At least that’s what my 3-star rating on Netflix told me, as I remembered very little of the film aside from lots and lots of squirmy slugs and Nathan Fillion running around trying to defeat an amorphous, fleshy monstrosity.
Sometimes it happens; for whatever reason a film doesn’t grab you with its first viewing. If at the theater, maybe the audience experience was less than desirable or maybe you realized you were searching for a romantic romp after sitting down in the latest actioner. Who can say what my issue was, but thankfully I had to scratch my Rooker-itch, because Slither is so much better than my 2006 self gave it credit for!
First off, Michael Rooker’s performance is key. The parasite transforms him into a vicious monster, but he’s still a man who loves his wife dearly. Beneath all the wiggly and oozing uber-Slug makeup, Rooker instills Grant with compassion as he fights to spare Starla from the parasite’s desire for world-wide assimilation. A serious performance despite the silliness surrounding him.
Elizabeth ‘Banksable’ Banks and Nathan Fillion are funny to watch as the doe-eyed damsel in distress and the calm and cool hero, even more so when they swap roles. The biggest laughs come from the loud-mouthed Mayor MacReady thanks to a hilarious portrayal by Gregg Henry. Gunn’s then wife, Jenna Fischer has a small role as the sheriff’s dispatch, Shelby, and Gunn himself can even be seen early on in the film as one of Starla’s many admirers.
Slither‘s squiggly, near-unstoppable mass of alien slugs not to mention Grant’s transformation into the uber-Slug are some pretty nasty-looking effects. Although, they aren’t nearly as nasty as what happens when the townsfolk or the local fauna get infected by them or, the worst of all, what happened to poor, poor Brenda. Slither slides in at a little over ninety minutes, and it’s goofy, gory fun to the very last minute.