“Slither”: A gleefully gross horror comedy

Alex Williams

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. We start to wrap up with “Slither,” starring Nathan Fillion.

Films like “Slither” are far too rare, bonafide creature-features with a great eye for the gross-out and a strong handle on characters to boot. Writer-director James Gunn has one of the weirdest sensibilities in genre filmmaking today, and his superhero riff “Super” is one of the most profoundly disturbing films out there about men in masks. But “Slither” is an entirely different beast, depicting perhaps the most disgusting alien invasion of all time.

Set in a small town, “Slither” makes the onslaught of the aliens believable and harrowing. Grant (Michael Rooker), frustrated with his marriage to Starla (Elizabeth Banks), absconds into the woods one night and is attacked and infested by an alien. Before long he begins to mutate, and it’s up to Starla and Police Chief Bill (Nathan Fillion) to save the day.

“Slither” throws a ton of genre elements into a blender, irreverently tackling zombies, aliens and an insane amount of phallic imagery, most of it literalized by the slimy intergalactic worms that force their way into the mouths of the townspeople and take over their bodies. While the CGI effects that bring these worms to life can be spotty, the practical effects throughout the film are exceptional, especially the increasingly grotesque makeup that Grant dons as his condition becomes more and more dire.

Rooker has a blast acting behind layers of prosthetics, hamming it up in every scene, and he has such a good time that it carries the film through a slow first half. Once the aliens start to gain a foothold in the town, “Slither” becomes a shamelessly gory creature feature, unafraid to go for some memorably disgusting sight gags, and Fillion’s charisma sells every new development, however incredulously.

“Slither” may not be an especially scary movie, but it’s a lot of fun to watch, and is full of great jokes and delightfully gross concepts. Besides, after 30 days of terror, you could probably use a little fun, right?