Published Dec 15, 2011Unfortunately not the latest in a long string of documentaries about LARPing, Dragonslayer is instead a freeform documentary about skateboarder Josh "Skreech" Sandoval. The directorial debut of Tristan Patterson, Dragonslayer admirably tries to circumvent and rewrite the rules of traditional documentary convention, but the end result is a film that looks great, but is strangely purposeless and lazily made.
Skreech is an unrepentant free spirit, a loner child left to fend for himself who turned to skateboarding to survive adolescence. Patterson met Skreech at a party and decided to follow him around with his camera. Now, Skreech is a fairly engaging dude and the odds of a documentary subject turning into gold are slim without a little pre-planning, but Dragonslayer finds its way nomadically, following Skreech around as he participates in skateboard competitions, in between getting wasted and hanging out with his young, but more sensible, girlfriend, Leslie.
One assumes that the overarching conceit is that everyone deserves having a documentary made about them in some way, and everyone's life is somehow special; it's a nice thought, but anathema to quality filmmaking in practice. Skreech is a potentially interesting guy, but the film never probes into who he really is. He has a son that he obviously loves, but only seems to spend time with sporadically. Why? He's obviously sick in parts of the film, but that's never deeply explored. It's frustrating how casually this film proceeds.
Patterson seems caught up in a sort-of "skid chic," fascinated by the extroverted world of people who live life couch-to-couch, flying by the seat of their unwashed pants. But, ultimately, Josh Sandoval is just a regular dude and anybody who's spent any time within range of a skate park knows his type inside and out.
While regular dudes, bless their hearts, make the world go 'round, they don't always have interesting stories to tell, which doesn't, in turn, always make for interesting movies. (Drag City)