Max Landis, writer of found-footage sci-fi gem Chronicle and son of legendary comedy director John, certainly has his dad’s talent for finding humanity and heart in the silliest of situations. His short, The Slap—a parody of the viral YouTube hit First Kiss—depicts 40 people paired off, meeting for the first time... and then smacking the hell out of each other. They really let each other have it.
The four-minute video starts out as an exercise in schadenfreude, but then it evolves into something more surreal: subjects negotiate the rules of slapping each other, unabashedly express excitement at being able to hit someone, giggle when giving and receiving slaps—and Haley Joel Osment shows up. Buñuel would have loved this.
Ultimately, The Slap becomes something heartwarming amidst the barrage of stinging smacks. The subjects work with each other in this safe space to choreograph slaps, pour beer on each other, and have a great time doing it. This could replace the ice cream social as the college freshman icebreaker of choice.
The Slap is a testament to our emotional complexity as human beings—a slap from a stranger could very well be a hug trying to get out.