Clay Liford’s refreshingly queer and progressive “Slash” is the nerd-sexy coming-of-age tale the Internet age so desperately needs. Take a quick scan of Tumblr to discover the new world of fluidly networked sexualities, played out on the canvas of popular culture. “Slash” perfectly captures that very specific zeitgeist.
The title comes from “slash fic,” erotic fan fiction written by fans about fictional characters who aren’t necessarily romantically linked on screen, like Kirk and Spock, for example. It’s a fan practice that’s been around since the 1960s, inspired by “Star Trek” subtext, and bears a decidedly feminist bent.
In “Slash,” the movement is embodied by the smart and sassy Julia (Hannah Marks), who takes young, repressed writer Neil (Michael Johnston) under her wing and teaches him the ways of the slash fic Internet. Their adventures take them from the forums of the Rabbit’s Hole, all the way to a comic convention to meet their online colleagues in the flesh.
Along the way, Liford visualizes the erotic scenarios dreamed up by the budding young writers in cheesy and fun sci-fi sequences, bringing their work to life for the audience. In taking on this fan fic world, Liford could have gone for the cheap, stereotypical laughs, but with the nuanced performances from Marks and Johnston, the film is a respectful analysis of burgeoning sexuality, the sometimes embarrassing missteps that come along with figuring it out, and exploring that all through fiction.
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood