Slash/Back is part coming-of-age, part John Carpenter’s The Thing, with a sprinkling of Attack the Block and all heart. While fighting alien invaders, these girls learn to love and fight for their culture, their home, and their identity. Gabe shares thoughts from the creator and cherishes new stories like these. A playful homage to horror while educating, love it! Kat shares information on the uncanny valley of the monsters and describes some of the Inuit folkloric monsters designed to keep kids safe in the Arctic.
Sources in this Episode: Nyla Innuksuk on her New Film “Slash/Back” - Inuit Art Foundation Your Guide to the Monsters in Inuit Art - Inuit Art Foundation
Other Reviews for Slash/Back: Slash/Back review – teen bantz takes down bloodsucking aliens in Inuit horror | Movies | The Guardian
Slash/Back - Mongel Media
'Slash/Back' Review: Inuit teens battle aliens in a groundbreaking thriller
In Slash/Back, an Alien Invader Tangles With Badass Teen Girls
Shudder's gory 'Slash/Back' trailer sees teen girls taking on an alien invasion | Mashable
Bloody Disgusting - Interview with Slash/Back Director
Movie review: ‘Slash/Back’ offers a unique take on the classic alien invasion motif | Diversions | tbnweekly.com
Media from this week's episode:
When Maika and her ragtag friends discover an alien invasion in their tiny arctic hamlet, it's up to them to save the day. Utilizing their makeshift weapons and horror movie knowledge, the aliens realize you don't mess with girls from Pang.
Director - Nyla Innuksuk
Slash/Back, No One Messes With Girls From Pang: Embracing Your Cultural Identity Can be Badass by Gabe Castro
RED: Quotes, someone else's words.
Slash/Back is part coming-of-age, part John Carpenter’s The Thing, with a sprinkling of Attack the Block and all heart. Following a band of plucky teens in Pangnirtung, an Inuit hamlet on the Canadian territory of Baffin Island. Our indigenous heroines are tasked with protecting their home from an invading force, an alien invasion with gross, fidgeting, not-moving-right, imposters. (Cue: “He’s wearing an Edgar suit” joke Gabe loves to make). The film opens with a white man and doing some ice science with a pole, snow, and data. He hears a curious sound before promptly exploring in a way that would make Ripley so mad and gets himself facehugged. This is our introduction to the monster under the ice, something sinister and quite hungry.
When we first meet the girls they are like any other, stuck in that in-between space of growing up not quite a teen but not a kid either. The girls gather together and decide to go hunting on the mainland. Maika, the lead of the troupe, grabs a rifle and heads for her family’s boat. Following close behind we have Uki, the rambunctious kid with a wild side, Leena, the quiet and sweet friend who is definitely going to grow into the Mom friend, and Jesse, down-to-earth and level-headed. Maika’s younger sister, Aju, sneaks her way over as well, showing herself to not be someone easily left behind. She rides her bike over just in time for the chaos.
The girls practice aiming before Aju arrives, yelling for them to get their attention. One of the girls spots a polar bear in the distance and takes aim. But this polar bear is quite strange. Its movements are fidgety, glitchy even, and certainly not right. Uki, always seeking to prove herself, takes aim and fires only for the bear to set its disturbing eyes upon little Aju. It charges forward and jumps on Aju, covering her in blood as Uki struggles to reload and take aim. Just in time, they’re able to shoot it and run back to their home. They all agree something was bizarre about the bear and they hint at it being the Ijiraq or a Qallupilluit, an Inuit folklore monster much like the Boogeyman that steals children. The Ijiraq are shape-shifting creatures who kidnap children and abandon them in places that are hidden away and not easy to find. (Kat will go into more of those spooky creatures in their section!)
A bunch of kids in Pang begin to gather 'round to hear the story of the group’s run-in with a real-life Ijiraq before they are unfortunately, though unsurprisingly, accosted by a police officer. It was giving Rhymes for Young Girls. Luckily, a local woman who is also an officer comes to their rescue. We get to spend more time with the girls and learn about their lives and personalities. Pang is small, everyone knows everyone and there are expectations for these girls. Leena is grounded for going to the mainland. Uki is off wandering, after having been dared to return to the bear attack, she goes in search of Aju’s bike and for vengeance. Jesse has a crush on a local boy, the teen dream, Thomassie who is hosting a party at his house while all the parents and adults in Pang go to a super fun line-dancing event. During these interactions, we learn about the complicated challenge of identity Maika is struggling with. Her father has taught her to hunt and wishes to instill Inuit values in her only for her to push them away. When Thomassie asks about the food she likes, she shrugs off and shows distaste for the traditional food and instead prefers KFC. She makes a terrible comment about the Inuit fish art in Thomassie’s house explaining that it’s tired and replicated everywhere to which he responds that it’s his mother’s art. Embarrassed she tries to change the subject before they are interrupted by the very loud and very terrified Uki.
Uki, while on her adventure to recover the bike, finds not only the strange polar bear but other bizarre-moving animals. Following close behind she discovers their alien spaceship of meat. The tentacles extending from the ship, latches onto their human victim, a nice fisherman from Pang, and sucks out his blood. Uki is attacked by a polar bear cub, slices it, and runs away, covered in blood. When she storms the party, she explains to everyone that there are aliens coming. In an attempt to stay relevant, and still burning with embarrassment, Maika absolutely lays into Uki. She unleashes a torrent of incredibly harmful words. After one of the aliens, now donning the gross police officer’s skin busts into the party, everyone learns rather quickly about the invasion. We get some really cool chase scenes and find Uki to be quite innovative and clever with survival.
Later, Maika tries to get some answers. She asks Uki about the “alien pretending not to be an alien” to which Uki responds, “Yes, like an Inuk pretending not to be an Inuk.” It is clear to her friends how Maika is trying to separate herself from her culture. In an interview on Inuit Art Foundation titled, Nyla Innuksuk on her New Film “Slash/Back”, director Nyla Innuksuk explains, “In the end, it is a very personal project about what it means to be growing up in a contemporary world as an Indigenous woman. We are the children of residential school survivors dealing with shame in our identities [as Indigenous people]. And dealing with our identities as young women. But of course, I had to throw some aliens in there to make it fun.”
The rest of the film pits the young girls against the Edgar-suit wearing aliens as they embrace the power of an Inuk woman, not someone to be messed with. They find a love for their hometown and decide to save Pang. What would this place be without them? Because no one stands a chance against an Inuk woman. They gather weapons, new, old, traditional and more, create plans of action, and fight the invading force.