THE WORLD arguably has more footage of skateboarders than it needs—YouTube is full of the endlessly hilarious spectacle of ratty SoCal kids falling off railings. But Dragonslayer director Tristan Patterson focuses his lens on one of the characters behind the stunts: Josh "Skreech" Sandoval, a 23-year-old whose life boils down to skating and getting fucked up—oh, and parenting his baby.
Dragonslayer opens on a bright day in Orange County, as Skreech cleans out an empty pool he wants to skate in. He's chased off after only a few minutes, and the scene provides a pretty clear allegory for the way he lives his life: lots of grime and struggle in exchange for a few illicit moments of clear, ephemeral pleasure.
Skreech is a resilient narrator, blithe about the grim material circumstances of his life—he sleeps in tents and vans, gets wasted a lot, and while we don't learn much about his childhood, it clearly wasn't good. His relationship with his girlfriend, Leslie, provides the most concrete throughline in this loosely structured doc—Leslie is so achingly teenaged that she's difficult to watch, hiding behind red lipstick and giant sunglasses. She's quiet, Skreech says, but "sophisticated," inscrutable as she watches Skreech try to eat a hamburger while so fucked up he can't even keep the patty in the bun.
It's hard to imagine a future for Skreech, and he doesn't seem able to envision one for himself, either—if you want to have your heart kinda broken, look no further than a scene in which Skreech and Leslie take his kid to the zoo. Skreech's doting eagerness is at complete odds with the way he lives the rest of the time, but the painful truth of Dragonslayer is that it offers no indication Skreech has any idea how to make a better life for either his child or himself.