Slash fiction, for all you people out there less depraved than us reprobates here at Moonbase Alpha, is fan fiction focused on sexual attraction, usually non-canonical combinations and often same-sex pairings of heterosexual characters (e.g. Kirk/Spock). Neil is a teenage writer of such works who ends up humiliated after his writing is discovered and shared around his classmates. Finding solace in fellow erotic adventure author Julia, she encourages him to upload his work to a website where people share similar creations, and the shared passion of their craft draws them together as they each fill a hole in the other’s life.
At the beginning of the film you assume that Neil is gay, but it later becomes clear that he isn’t quite sure what he is and uses his writing as a way of exploring his confused sexuality. This way the presumed platonic nature of his and Julia’s relationship can conceivably grow more intimate, from he being a change to the distant older guys she is tired of and her straight-talking assertion being everything he wishes he could be. Despite the confident air Julia projects, she is gradually revealed to be just as emotionally messed up as Neil is, albeit far better at hiding her insecurity under a veneer of aloof nonchalance, and it’s through figuring out what they want together that the two of them grow closer.
The story is punctuated by several sci-fi interludes dramatising Neil’s literary creations, which are invariably amusing for their sheer ridiculousness, the porny dialogue and narration and improbable scenarios highlighting what ridiculous fun these stories can be. Additionally, a hilariously awkward family meal (“Can we please stop saying ‘erotica’ at the dinner table?”) is a particular highlight scene.
Despite being a niche interest seen as ripe for ridicule, the film treats slash fiction as a subject to be taken seriously, as the people who write this kind of material do so out of a deep emotional investment in the characters they reinterpret. While even they might not deny that they’re a bunch of freaks and perverts, this shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, and besides, they’re all freaks and perverts together. The story touches upon the fundamental irony that a large chuck of slashfic writers are sexually inexperienced teenagers and thus aware of only the basic mechanics of what they write about, but in keeping with the inclusive portrayal of the world of literary sexiness it isn’t dwelled upon.
When it comes down to it, Slash is a basic teen movie with very familiar character arcs and story beats – albeit presented through unusual subject matter – but its nuanced portrayal of its realistic characters make it worth checking out.
SLASH / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: CLAY LIFORD / STARRING: MICHAEL JOHNSTON, HANNAH MARKS, MICHAEL IAN BLACK, MISSI PYLE, JESSIE ENNIS, PETER VACK / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10