Program 30 – Slash
USA / 2016 / 100 min. | Directed by: Clay Liford
Gay geeks get their day in Slash, writer-director Clay Liford’s funny, bittersweet dramedy of self-discovery set in a subculture that’s been tragically unexplored in the world of queer cinema.
Shy, 15-year-old Neil (Michael Johnston, MTV’s Teen Wolf) is still figuring himself out. An outsider at his suburban Texas high school, he retreats into a world of fantasy, penning slash fiction (erotic tales featuring fictional characters engaging in same-sex encounters) starring the muscled male protagonist of his favorite science fiction novels. These stories allow Neil to hone his writing talent while providing a much-needed outlet to explore his burgeoning sexual identity, though he never intends for his work to ever be seen by an audience.
But when Neil’s notebook falls into the hands of his judgmental classmates, his steamy prose earns him nothing but taunts and jeers. It also earns him a trip straight to the principal’s office. On the plus side, it’s there where he meets Julia (Hannah Marks). Slightly older than Neil, Julia has the kind of swaggering confidence that he wishes for himself. She also happens to be a fellow author of erotic fanfic.
Neil and Julia bond over their shared passion and strike up a quick friendship. Neil’s never felt closer to anyone in his life. As their relationship drifts between mutual affection and physical attraction, he also begins trading the occasional instant message with Denis (Michael Ian Black, Wet Hot American Summer), the much older moderator of the slash fiction forum where Julia encourages Neil to upload his stories. When he and Julia take a road trip to Houston Comicpalooza, where Denis has invited Neil to participate in a live-read by fan fiction authors, he’s left to sort through his confused feelings and finally decide what it is that he wants.
A warm and open-hearted coming-of-age tale, Slash is ultimately about something each of us aspires to: finding a community of kindred spirits who will happily accept us for exactly who we are.
— Adam Lubitow
Official Selection: SXSW Film Festival NOMINEE: FUTUREWAVE YOUTH JURY AWARD Seattle International Film Festival