By Amanda Gilmore
This outstanding Feature-Debut from Canadian Filmmaker Nyla Innuksuk takes place in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, a sleepy hamlet of Baffin Island. Teenager Maika (Tasiana Shirley) and her group of friends spend their summer days like normal. However, when the wildlife begin acting strange Uki (Nalajoss Ellsworth) gets suspicious. She goes searching for an answer and discovers that Pang has been invaded by aliens. These girls are used to being underestimated, so they bet on themselves. Using makeshift weapons and their Horror movie knowledge, the fate of the world rests in their hands.
Slash/Back is a special Alien genre film because it focuses on the bond these friends share. These teens are at a point in their lives where they’re forming new opinions that might not align with their friends. This is happening with Maika, who has started to stray from her culture, while her friends, particularly Uki, celebrates her ancestors’ oral teachings. Innuksuk and Co-Writer Ryan Cavan use the invasion as a way to bring this group back together.
The two girls played by emerging talent Shirley and Ellsworth are cast perfectly. For such young Actors, they have the insight and ability to give depth to their characters. Shirley excels as the young Maika who uses the hunting techniques her father taught her in order to save the world. Ellsworth is a joy as Uki, believing in herself even when her closest friends don’t. Their authentic chemistry is highlighted in moments where the two butt-heads in their diverging views.
The aliens have invaded one of the most beautiful places Canada has to offer. The majestic Pang is surrounded by towering mountains and the calm, captivating Arctic Ocean. Innuksuk and Cinematographer Guy Godfree capture the natural beauty of this sleepy hamlet. The Visual Effects are left at a minimum. Using them solely for the alien ship, which is seen from afar, and the alien visuals.
Slash/Back is fun for the whole family with effective, atmospheric music from The Halluci Nation and Michael Brook. It’s got a heartfelt story about female friendship and kids saving the world. For the most part, the alien scenes are kid-friendly, with many frightening moments sprinkled throughout.
A Lot of Nothing screens at SXSW ’22 as follows:
Sunday, March 13 at 1:45 PM EST – Alamo Lamar D
Monday, March 14 at 4:45 PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 1
Monday, March 14 at 5:15 PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 3
Thursday, March 17 at 7:15 PM EST – Stateside Theatre
Monday, March 14 at 10:00 AM EST – Available for 48 hours