Thursday, October 20, 2022

Brooklyn Horror ’22: Slash/Back

There is no question Captain Pat Hendry and his fellow Air Force officers did a much better job defending Earth in the original Thing from Another World than Kurt Russell did in John Carpenter’s remake. These young Inuit girls are cut more from Hendry’s cloth, because they are hunters. Unfortunately, so is the alien parasite threatening their community in Nyla Innuksuk’s Slash/Back, which screened at the 2022 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.

Maika and her friends either resent their depressed Nunavut community (like her) or they are resigned to it (like her best friend Uki). Fortunately, it is the sort of town that hardly notices a teen like her carrying a hunting rifle down the street, because she is going to need it.

The first victim was an American scientist, but the “thing” had to possess and consume polar bears, until the girls stumbled across it path. Maika manages to save her tag-along sister from a hive-mind-controlled bear, but the aliens will follow the scent of its blood back to the community.

For everyone who thought the ulu was under-utilized in the fight against alien invaders, Innuksuk and co-screenwriter Ryan Cavan finally come through with the goods. In this case, the invaded bodies are not the insidious pod people infiltrating home and hearth, as in
Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Instead, the parasite turns their blood black and their skin starts to sag and get generally nasty looking. One possessed host even resembles Leatherface.

The makeup and practical effects are entertainingly gory, in the right kind of way. Admittedly, the initial rampaging polar bear looks kind of weird and unnatural, but that makes sense in the full context of the film. It takes a bit of time for it to get going, but
Slash/Back turns into a satisfying alien-hunting movie.

For obvious reasons,
Slash/Back will probably be compared to Prey, but the girls’ friendship really drives Innuksuk’s film. This is a team effort, not a one-on-one showdown. That fellowship makes the film appealing, even though their resentful attitudes become somewhat tiresome. They are still teenagers, after all.

Unlike most monster films,
Slash/Back is perpetually sunny, due to the solstice, but that creates a credible pretext to take the adults (kicking up their heels at the annual square dance) out of the picture. Viewing the “Thing”-like alien through the prism Ijiraq lore also freshens up the arctic body-snatcher monster tradition, which lost a bit of its luster after the mediocre 2011 The Thing prequel. Recommended for fans of teens vs. monsters, Slash/Back opens Friday (10/21) in theaters, following its screening at this year’s Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.