Nathan Fillion is at a crossroads, but whichever way he turns should be great.
Known to Joss Whedon fans everywhere first as Caleb on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and later used much better as Capt. Mal Reynolds on "Firefly" and in "Serenity," he has the chops to play the lead in first-rate science fiction. And now, in the blissfully gross and almost always funny "Slither," he proves he has the facial expressions down for a Bruce Campbell quality B-movie career.
Either way, he's reached the point now where I'll go see just about anything with his name attached to it.
As for "Slither," knowing that it was directed by James Gunn, who perfected his ability to make you squirm and laugh at the same time while helping create gems like "Sgt. Kabukiman" and "Citizen Toxie" for Troma, I had high hopes going in. And, this time at least, I wasn't the least bit disappointed.
The plot is fairly standard B-movie fare: A meteor crashes to Earth, unleashing a being that, instead of procreating in any standard sense, breaks up into little slug-like creatures that infect most of the people they encounter, and impregnate a few to keep the creatures spreading. If you're not laughing already, this probably isn't for you, but it certainly was for me.
What sets "Slither" apart is the stars and the dialogue. It starts with Fillion, who as the sheriff of the Southern town of Wheelsy (actually Vancouver, Canada, apparently) manages to look like he's in on the joke from the beginning as things fall apart rapidly around him. Cutie Elizabeth Banks is also great as the requisite leading lady who, when forced to, can hold her own against an army of mutants, always a good skill to have in situations like this.
In the supporting cast, you'll find many familiar faces, starting with longtime heavy Michael Rooker. Ever since he played "Henry the Serial Killer," he's always been able to mine the darkly comic side of evil, and I knew right away he would be the first one infected. Jack MacReady, known to "Gilmore Girls" fans as Mitchum Huntzberger, is also hilarious, and uses more f-bombs and other assorted vulgarities than I've heard used so well in a very long time.
It wasn't until about halfway into this crazy mess, when the uninfected have formed a posse to track down Rooker and his mutants, that it hit me just how profane the script is. I said hit me, mind you, not offend me. How would you react if creepy sluglike creatures were infecting everyone you know? Well, I would probably let a profanity or three fly.
The very funny dialogue at first reminded me of Kevin Smith, but then Roddy Doyle back from his "Barrytown Trilogy" days. His characters used the f-word freely and naturally in discourse, as the characters in "Slither" do.
It's the humor that makes the grossness (and believe me, you will squirm) go down a lot easier. It's what missing from the spate of slasher flicks that have invaded movie houses lately, and it's what worked best for me.
I give "Slither" a solid B in every sense, a letter Gunn, Fillion and all their co-conspirators can wear with pride.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 2:12 PM