SXSW 2022: ‘Slash/Back’ Hits Coming of Age Perfectly

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Slash/Back is about Indigenous identity as much as it’s about the creatures the leads are fighting. It’s part coming-of-age and part horror-comedy that uses its young cast in dynamic ways. Slash/Black is directed and written by , the co-creator behind Marvel’s Snow Guard, Amka Aliyak, with co-writing the script. The film also stars a stellar young cast of newcomers including Tasiana Shirley, Alexis Wolfe, Chelsea Prusky, Frankie Vincent-Wolfe, and Nalajoss Ellsworth.

Set in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, a sleepy hamlet nestled in the mountains of Baffin Island in the Arctic Ocean, a group of young girls wake up to a typical summer day. They ride their bikes to the shore, tell horror stories on the rocks, and grief each other as only friends can. With no School, no cool boys, and 24-hour sunlight Maika and her ragtag friends’ lives are turned from ordinary summer fun to a fight against an alien invasion threatening Pang. Armed with makeshift weapons and knowledge of horror movies and the ability to be a really good shot, the teens who have been underestimated their whole lives show the aliens that you “don’t fuck with girls from Pang.”

Man, Slash/Back is just great. It’s the right balance of fun and sci-fi creature horror that uses its young actresses to the fullest. The film is in both English and Inuktut, with only some of the indigenous language translated and the other moments left to infer from context. This makes a lot of the conversations between the girls and their families feel real instead of just words in a script. From how they communicate with each other to how they fiercely protect each other, the girls of Slash/Back give the Goonies a run for their money.  Second, to the actresses, are the stories we hear them tell. Stories meant as warnings, said to get a fright among a group of friends becomes the basis for the girls’ survival.

Innuksuk is able to capture the beauty of Pang’s natural surroundings and the interpersonal dynamics that comes from growing up in a close community. Their ingenuity and curiosity keep them alive, and their love of their community keeps them grounded. This balance comes from Maika voicing her disconnect with her indigenous identity as she criticizes the art in the home of a friend or showcasing embarrassment towards her family. But these moments are small and confronted because the girls’ indigenous identity is why they survive and why they can keep pushing forward.

Slash/Back is a strong film that captures the innocence of childhood as it crashes against violence. Sure, it’s science fiction, but the film has a heart that tackles the coming-of-age genre at the same time. It’s sweet, it’s fierce, and the monsters are hilariously great. B-horror and science fiction set the foundation and the young cast build something great on top of it.

Slash/Back had its world premiere at SXSW 2022 International Film Festival.


Slash/Back

TL;DR

Slash/Back is a strong film that captures the innocence of childhood as it crashes against violence. Sure, it’s science fiction, but the film has a heart that tackles the coming-of-age genre at the same time. It’s sweet, it’s fierce, and the monsters are hilariously great. B-horror and science fiction set the foundation and the young cast build something great on top of it.