The Movie Buffer

Wednesday, April 05, 2006



'Tis a fine review, English but spoilers, thou hast.


There are two approaches to viewing this movie and both are supported by the movie’s plot and tone. The first way to see this film is as a monster horror movie that doesn’t take the genre to seriously (similar to the Godzilla movies or any “lighthearted” horror flick). The plot is rigorous enough to support this premise easily. Monster maggots from parts unknown invade a small town and by using their mind control powers the maggots enslave or devour the townsfolk. Next, you can look at the move as a smart parody of monster horror genre (like Shaun of the Dead or any parody movie pre-Scary movie). The dialogue and the story are strange and clever enough to draw a few laughs. When the forced horror clichés start coming out, someone is ready to answer back with a piercing insult rather than the predictable “I’m okay and praise the Lord we survived”-type line. I went into this movie with apprehensions because the trailers had advertised this movie as better than the Shining and the Exorcist and how the aforementioned films were for pansies. So, when I clued into the “joke”, I laughed pretty hard.

Rookie Director, James Gunn, tells us the predictable story of monsters that invade and enslave the human population of a small town. Though the story may be old and tired he wrings out one last hoorah, if you subscribe to the first interpretation of the film, or he makes a masterful parody that incorporates many standard techniques from other monster movies. His range of influences are as wide as they are ludicrous – he made use the “Evil Dead” zooming through the forest shots, he makes the slugs fast like the “fast zombies” from 28 days later and he uses the “love conquers all” plot device that’s used in practically all comic horrors. His style is difficult to characterize using this movie because of the nature of parody; he may have inadvertently hit on some of these stereotypes without even noticing. But as far as the shot composition, cinematography and plot progression there was nothing to complain about nor anything great.

The actors that were cast in this film all come from the “cult” flick Hall of Fame: Nathan Fillion from “Serenity”/”Firefly”, Michael Rooker from “Mallrats” and “The Bone Collector” and Elizabeth Banks from “40-year Old Virgin” and the remake of “Shaft”. These three drive the story as a tortured love triangle. Rooker plays the rich old guy who woos Banks, the poor young hottie of the town, while Fillion plays the awkward best friend from high school who pines for her while drowning his sorrow in booze. Don’t expect any Academy Awards but you can see that these guys are really trying. The have an on-screen chemistry that brings out the comedy in all of them. The story was paper thin as any movie of this genre but it does the most it can with the scant details that lie within.

The movie deserves a 5/10 (1 star) pre-revelation of the true nature of the movie and a 6.5/10 (2 stars) post-revelation. Why the increase? Once you realize what is going on then you can look back and say well that’s why they did this and that. The main flaw was that the villain tried to be menacing but couldn’t with such a limited amount of time for character development. In the end the story ends up being warmer than I would have expected and I liked this movie more than I would have thought. It will be seen as a renter for some but those who go to see it on the big screen will not be disappointed.


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