It seems that most of the creators behind today’s horror movies just aren’t thinking anymore. Films like The Grudge or the remake of the classic The Omen just aren’t as scary anymore. Such is the case with the recent Universal film Slither, which ends up being an entertaining movie, but never really produces that spook factor that say the original Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street produced.
The film begins after a meteorite crashes in a Midwestern town. A man named Gra…t (Michael Rooker) stumbles upon a fossil and is infected by a life force living inside the fossil. Soon his super cute wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) figures out that something is not right with her husband. He has a new found larger than life hunger for raw meat and he begins to crave strange body mutations. It turns out that a strange alien creature has infested Grant in hopes of infesting the entire human race. Now the next part sounds a bit out of the film Species. The creature inside Grant decides it wants to mate with Starla to create a whole new race. Bring in Deputy Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) and Jack MacReady (Gregg Henry) to do battle with this new creature and you have, surprisingly, a pretty entertaining film even if it never truly scares you.
What I really enjoyed about the film was that it became obvious that Director James Gunn has quite the interesting feel to film making. His writing, filming and use of genre clichés were always great. Take any real piece of dialogue in the film, play it back and listen to how Gunn had the actors speak that line. He makes them act it out in a manner that seemed overly smart and intelligent, maybe too intelligent for a horror film, but never sent the message that he was trying to be over the top. The acting is also entertaining as well, particularly the lead character Grant. Actor Michael Rooker portrays this role perfectly really acting as if his body was really infested with a gooey, slimly creature that wants to take over. Elizabeth Banks as his wife is cute in a supporting type manner as she assists Rooker by making this seem more believable than it probably needs to ever be. Both add a sense of comedy and fun to this horror film.
No, Slither isn’t the best example of a horror film, but it certainly is a hell of a lot better than some of the horror films Hollywood is trying to spew our way. The film is fun, short (only 96 minutes), and a pure form of night entertainment. The film wasn’t a gigantic success at the box office, which is a true shame. Hopefully the film will be granted a second life on SD DVD and now HD DVD.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Slither looks pretty damn good on HD DVD capturing all the gorey, horrific elements of the film.
The true benefit here is that the film’s print is practically brand new which results in nearly zero instances of blemishes, grain or pixilation. Color usage, particularly the blacks are strong, solid and bold creating a nice scary look to the scenery. Some of the day scenes are kind of washed out (sometimes the blues and whites of the sky looked over-saturated). The night scenes, as per any real horror film, are were the film’s colors really picked up. Every color was richer, bolder and stronger giving the film more detail. Speaking of detail, it isn’t the best in every scene, but is good enough to give the film that 3D look we expected.
Considering the small budget of the film (only $15 Million), Slither doesn’t boast the strongest transfer on HD DVD. But, it does look pretty damn amazing especially considering the fact that it didn’t have much to work with. All-in-all, this was a solid effort here by Universal.
Provided with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 in either English, French or Spanish, the film, despite only having been encoded at 640kbps instead of the normal 1.5mbps, still sounds ok.
Not really giving any true sequence of booming bass or real overall surround work, I did notice that the film’s dynamic range was great. Clean highs and solid midranges created a nice look to the film. The low end is deep, while the clarity is solid. Dialogue is balanced well here, which is a usual problem in some horror films. The problem here I felt was that the film, despite all the scenes of screaming horror, never really becomes active in the surround area. We never really get that atmosphere that the average horror film creates (maybe this is why I didn’t find the film to be overly scary at any one point). Instead of a solid surround mix, we’re given a heavy front, while disappointing, did what it could. A good, but underwhelming effort is offered here.
This is really where the disc shines!
- Audio Commentary with Director James Gunn and star Nathan Fillion: The only extra found on the HD DVD side (the rest are on the SD DVD side), I found this commentary rather interesting and fun. The two participants speak with a nice tone never really drifting out giving us tons of information on the film’s sets, production, and casting. The two really sounded good together completing each other in a manner that wasn’t too over the top, but was just right.
- The Sick Minds and Slimy Days of Slither: Here we get to find out in about 10 minutes more about the film’s cast via interviews and comments.
- The King of Cult: Lloyd Kaufman’s Video Diary: Running about 9 minutes, this gives praise to Kaufman for all he’s done for horror films and for creating Troma films.
- Slithery Set Tour with Nathan Fillion: In this 4 minute quicky, actor Fillion gives us a run through some of the film’s more gruesome set pieces.
- Bringing Slither’s Creatures to Life: Running around 18 minutes in length, here we get to see some of the film’s makeup sessions. Some of the film’s creature creations are spoken about via a few shots of the creepy stars.
- Visual Effects: Step by Step: Here, in around 5 minutes, we get to see how the film’s visual effects were given that CGI look.
- Gorehound Grill: Brewin’ The Blood: In less than 4 minutes, we get to find out how, yes this is true, we can create our own blood! Talk about cool no?
- Deleted and Extended Scenes: Here we get 18 minutes of scenes (14 scenes) that give the film more gore (and more horror). Director James Gunn fills us in on why these were deleted. Eventually, pending the success of this film on disc, we might see an unrated cut released.
Slither succeeds in areas where other recent horror films have failed in that the film was entertaining throughout (and I’m not the biggest horror guy around). The video was fine, but the audio lacked that real spark that I expected. The features, besides the film, are the true gem here with many insightful, fun (especially the blood one!) features that are blast to watch. Despite the higher Combo price, I’m still going to recommend this title.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary with Director James Gunn and star Nathan Fillion
- The Sick Minds and Slimy Days of Slither
- The King of Cult: Lloyd Kaufman’s Video Diary
- Slithery Set Tour with Nathan Fillion
- Bringing Slither’s Creatures to Life
- Visual Effects: Step by Step
- Gorehound Grill: Brewin’ The Blood
- Deleted and Extended Scenes