“This shit’s about as far from God as shit can get.” –Mayor Jack MacReady (Gregg Henry)

Sorry to start you off with that blast, but it pretty much sets the tone for this movie. Let me preface this review by stating that I can’t believe that I found the Gospel message in this movie. A mix of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the Evil Dead movies, and any of a number of zombie movies, Slithers covers some well worn territory, yet stands poised to become a cult hit. With a mix of effective action and gross out titillation, it wasn’t a bad little movie.

Reminiscent of Troma films (convenient since director James Gunn is a Troma alum), Lovecraftian monsters (well, those of the squiddy variety), and hentai comics (let’s leave it at the movie is filled with phallic imagery), the movie ostensibly sets its plot against the backdrop of Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest. Posing the existentialist issue of how man would handle a challenge to his dominion and place in the created order, enter the extraterrestrial slug creatures (because pods are so passe). With these bloated slugs using people as “skin cars,” our intrepid band of heroes–Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks, 40 Year Old Virgin) and Sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion, Serenity – aptly filling the Bruce Campbell role in the movie)–manage to stay one step ahead of extraterrestrial slugs going down their throats and all manner of spewed goo. All choreographed with an enthusiastic zeal.

Like many old school horror films, Slither seems to have a moral core at its center. Grant Grant (Michael Rooker), the possessive husband tempted by the possibility of adultery, is the first to encounter the alien and is punished by becoming its primary host. Brenda (Brenda James), the temptress, is punished by becoming the breeder of the alien host. Much of the plot, in turn, revolves around the credo “marriage is a sacred bond” (as an aside, when I saw Hellraiser II, I remember thinking that while I may not ask much of a potential spouse, having skin is one of the requirements. When watching Slither, I couldn’t help but think that my spouse being turned into a blob-like creature with tentacles has to be a reasonable ground for divorce).

Slither, while not specifically using zombies, does make use of the imagery of the zombie trope (eating raw meat instead of brains). These creatures portray a resurrection to walking death. They are the living dead, with no hope, only the eternal existence in a “body of death” (Romans 7:24). They are particular reminders that there are worse things than death. Which leads me to the question of how the Gospel is found in this movie.

“How can you blame someone for acting according to their own nature?” –Grant Grant

Let’s start at the beginning. Grant Grant is the first man–the Adam, if you will–introducing the worms to humanity. Through Grant comes death. In this way, the worms are like the nature of sin, an infection that spreads and grows almost like a conscious disease. Because of the introduction of sin, the created order is disrupted, neither humanity (once infected with sin) nor creation are as they are meant to be. There is disharmony between each person and themselves (their bodies are not their own, not doing what they know to be right), disharmony between each person with each other person, disharmony between humanity and creation (even the animals are different), and ultimately, disharmony between them and God (symbolized as even the clergy of the day are infected). The center of the conscious, this sin that has lead to a cycle of death and depravity, has to be crushed.

“Jesus saves.” –sign reflected during the film

Enter Bill, as a Christ figure (the second Adam in theological language). Through Bill comes life, but that life is purchased at a cost. Bill has to absorb the infection into himself, his side literally pierced for humanity’s sake. By taking the infection onto himself, he ultimately is able to triumph over it. Bill frees everyone from the tyranny of the worms. How does Christ save? He cleanses the infection of sin and by proxy, reorders creation and brings man back to unity with God. That work is done, it’s only a matter of whether humanity chooses to see it.

Look, I’m not going to lie to you: Slither isn’t for everyone. This movie is often gross, violent, and has a dark sensibilities about it. There are no surprises here – you know from the trailers/commercials what kind of movie this is. Once you get into the over-the-top spirit of the movie, well, scratch that – you have to get into the spirit of the movie to enjoy it. Slithers is a B-movie thrill ride that doesn’t aim to be anything more than that. The movie works because it doesn’t take itself seriously, enjoys itself, and is darkly comic. It’s infectious that way.