tek's rating: ½

Slither (R)
A.V. Club; Badmovies.org; Dread Central (2 / DVD; Blu-ray); IMDb; Lost Highway; Rotten Tomatoes; Scream Factory; TV Tropes; Universal; Wikipedia

Caution: spoilers!

So, it's Friday the 13th (specifically, April 13, 2012), and tonight is the premiere of Joss Whedon's new horror movie, The Cabin in the Woods. But, since there's no chance of my getting to a theater, I thought I'd console myself by watching this DVD of a movie that came out six years ago, which I haven't seen yet. A horror movie, starring Nathan Fillion, who is of course an alum of various Whedon shows. I'm sure "Cabin" will be better than this, but "Slither" was definitely better than I expected. Of course, I'm not a big fan of this genre, but this is one of the better entries I've seen.

It begins with a meteorite crashing to Earth, in Wheelsy, South Carolina. There's a young woman who lives in town, named Starla, who's married to a wealthy, somewhat older man named Grant Grant. One night, Grant gets upset because Starla isn't in the mood for sex, so he goes out to a bar to have a few drinks. There he meets a woman named Brenda Gutierrez, who is apparently the younger sister of someone he used to date. She says she had a crush on him, back then. The two of them get drunk and then go out into the woods, where they start making out (even though they're both married), but Grant stops, apparently deciding not to cheat on his wife. However, they then discover the meteorite, and follow a trail leading away from it. They soon come across a large, gross sluglike thing, which shoots a sort of dart into Grant's stomach. The dart, actually an alien parasite, works its way up to his brain, and takes over. He wanders home, without a word to Brenda, who was understandably concerned.

The next morning, Grant and Starla's marital relations... improve. But that won't last long. He begins to change, though Starla tries to ignore it, at first. But Grant has a strong hunger for raw meat, and before long starts killing local pets to feed his hunger. He also kidnaps Brenda and chains her up in a barn, for breeding purposes, after inserting... I dunno, his eggs or larvae or whatever, into her. Meanwhile, the newly promoted chief of police, Bill Pardy (Fillion), investigates Brenda's disappearance, which leads him to Starla (and btw, he and Starla were childhood friends, with unresolved potential romantic feelings). When Starla discovers some of what her husband has been up to, she tries to report him, and Grant feels betrayed, and tries to kill her. But Bill and some other police show up and stop him, but Grant gets away.

The movie then flashes forward three days. Grant is still on the loose, and he's moved on from killing pets to livestock. Bill figures out what his next target will be, so he and his deputies, along with Mayor Jack MacReady and I think a couple of other townsfolk, all stake out the farm of the Strutemyer family (which includes a guy named Otis, his wife, a daughter who seems to be in her late teens, and two younger daughters). Starla also comes along for the stakeout, though Bill didn't want her to. She felt responsible for what had happened, since she ignored the signs of Grant's changes. When Grant shows up, totally mutated now, they confront him, but he kills one member of the posse, and slithers away. They give chase, and find the barn, and Brenda... who has changed quite a bit, herself. And um... let's just say "gives birth" to a tremendous number of slugs, which promptly try to get into everyone's mouths, to take over their brains. Some members of the posse are affected, but Bill, Starla, and the mayor manage to get away.

At the same time, the slugs make their way to the Strutemyer house, and take over everyone except the older daughter, Kylie, who manages to get away. She later joins up with Bill, who was trying to get into town, having been unable to contact Shelby by phone (the receptionist at the police station). Bill and Kiley are soon rejoined by Starla and the mayor, who were running away from the infected members of the posse. Um... we learn a bit about the nature of the alien parasite from Kiley, who had gained some knowledge at the time one of the slugs almost took her over, earlier. And now everyone who's been infected is part of a hive mind, which is sort of simultaneously the alien parasite and Grant... so all the infected people talk as if they were Grant, and... the creature that once was Grant still loves Starla, though also still feels betrayed by her. It's complicated.

Anyway, I don't want to say any more about the plot. Obviously, the survivors have to try to continue surviving, and also have to try to stop the alien from taking over or killing all the other people in the world. For awhile there, I seriously wondered whether they'd succeed... and I'm not telling whether they did or not. But I'll just say, while there was a lot in the movie that was totally gross, and kind of scary, it also had a lot of genuinely funny moments. And I really liked how many little touches there were in the story, details that added not only humor and emotional depth, but also made it feel like a real town, full of real people with real personalities and real personal histories. There were plenty of plot points that could just as easily have been done with less detail, but the details made it a much better movie than it might have been. And the major characters were all fairly well written and acted. All could be amusing. (I also thought one of Kylie's little sisters was particularly cool, after she was infected.) And I guess that's all I can say. Except that there's a bonus scene at the end of the closing credits.


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