Slash/Back, horror in the far north

Tasiana Shirley, Alexis Wolfe, and Nalajoss Ellsworth in Slash/Back

Slash/Back is a horror flick from an indigenous woman director named Nyla Innuksuk, who also co-wrote the story. It’s an homage to The Thing, except it takes place in northern Canada near the Arctic Circle and a bunch of teen girls defeat the icky, blood sucking alien entities that comes for them.

Slash/Back takes place on the longest day of the year. In an Inuit village called Pang, the teenage girls are concerned with the phone data plans, the boys they like, and getting away with doing what they aren’t supposed to do.

Tasiana Shirley, Alexis Wolfe, and Nalajoss Ellsworth, and Frankie Vincent-Wolfe in Slash/Back

Four main characters lead the way in defeating the strange creatures that beset them. Three of them, Maika (Tasiana Shirley), Uki (Nalajoss Ellsworth), and Jesse (Alexis Wolfe) take a boat and head out to what they call ‘the land.’ The younger Aju (Frankie Vincent-Wolfe), who wasn’t welcome on the boat stealing adventure, follows on her bike.

They live in a mountainous area around an inlet or fiord. At ‘the land,’ they sit on some rocks chatting about boys and teasing each other when they hear a strange noise and see something that looks like a polar bear but moves all wrong. Uki takes Maika’s father’s rifle and shoots the bear. The bear has black blood and strange snake like tentacles come out of its body. It dies but it doesn’t die.

Aju goes for a closer look. She’s attacked by a smaller animal and slits its throat with a flensing knife. The girls return to the village and tell their friends what they’ve seen. Their parents are at a dance celebrating the solstice and they don’t mention what they’ve seen to them.

Aju believes in the old Inuit tales of creatures from mythology. Maika, who is the leader of the group, makes fun of the old ways. But they all descended from great hunters. Their traditional knowledge is in them, whether they reject the old ways or not. Their homes are full of harpoons, giant knives, nets, ropes, and the rifle Maika sneaked away from her dad.

They unite under the idea, “You don’t fuck with the girls of Pang,” and set out to save the day.

Tasiana Shirley in Slash/Back
Maika is the leader

They collect what weapons they have, set up traps, hide the younger children in a safe place, and wait for more of the aliens to appear. It doesn’t take long. As in The Thing, when an animal or person is killed the entity takes over its skin. Except the body moves all wrong.

Nalajoss Ellsworth in Slash/Back
Uki is the bait

There’s plenty of humor mixed in with the horrible monsters that want their blood. Action was interspersed with teen girl drama. The special effects weren’t great, but they were scary enough. A bigger budget would have improved the effects, but I think this indie movie even getting made with an indigenous cast of first time actors was a big accomplishment already.

This wasn’t the greatest horror movie, but it was fun and showed the potential of director Nyla Innuksuk. Give the woman a bigger budget next time! Here’s an interview with her.

You can see the film on AMC+ and a few other streamers.

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