If you’re a vegetarian and/or averse to the musical genre that is Post-Apocalyptic-Symphonic-Reindeer-Grinding-ScandoFinn-Metal then avert your eyes to the following review. 2018 Finnish shock-rock comedy Heavy Trip is just waiting to make you laugh ‘till you puke. Literally.
Available now on ARROW: www.arrow-player.com , this movie is definitely an experience that will make you rethink how you see Santa’s sleigh-driving friends!
Written and directed by Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren, “Heavy Trip” is set in rural nineties Finland.
Downbeat young (and bloody gorgeous) metalhead Turo (played by Johannes Holopainen) is in one Hell of a slump. Dead end job in a care home cleaning up the residents faeces. Simpering about after his childhood crush Miia, (portrayed by the sweet but ballsy Minka Kuustonen) in an it’s-actually-requited-but-both-are-too-shy-to-do-anything-about-it way. And all this while being hassled by the local law, local scumbag chavs AND the local sleazy lothario, Jouni Tulkku? (Jouni is hilariously played by the scene stealing Ville Tiihonen.) Hardly a fitting social situation for the frontman of local extreme metal band “Impaled Rektum”.
While the world at large sees Turo as a weird little weakling, thankfully his fellow bandmates down in the basement of their guitarist’s father’s reindeer slaughter house see the true, brutal potential of this future Rock God.
It would be easy to attempt to slap a good auld fashioned Spinal Tap comparison label on to Heavy Trip as of course, the iconic This Is Spinal Tap is normally the standard to which every rock-comedy is held to. However, this is a movie with the bare-bones DIY authenticity of Lords of Chaos starring comedic characters that seem to step straight out of Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse.
There is of course guttural squealer, Turo. Lutvonen, the gormless but light fingered reindeer slaughtering shredder. Pasi, the majestically dignified and dead-pan bassist. And who could forget the larger than life (and twice confirmed dead) drummer Jynkky. Each character is extremely well written, fully formed and all four lads portray their role with a delicate balance of realism and farce.
I could wax lyrical about a well paced and ludicrous yet bizarrely believable script. Slick and clean camera work with picturesque shots of the quaint Nordic countryside. But, for me, the genuine warmth, feeling and camaraderie between the band mates as they go through triumph and tragedy to get their Impaled Rektum out of the squalid basement and onto the largest stage at a prestigious Norwegian metal festival is what sells this movie.
As a metal head myself the frequent nods and references to real life bands and songs was a joy to spot throughout the movie. In particular, there’s a scene where Turo and Co. have decided to leave the realm of Cover Songs and enter the misty terrains of Original Material. I defy you not to choke out ugly squeals of laughter as the band gather around guitarist Lutvonen, getting more excited with each new, fresh riff he writes for them, only to be informed by Pasi, with metronomic deadpan timing, that each piece of music he attempts is already a pre-existing, extremely famous song.
Don’t worry, Impaled Rektum eventually find their elusive and unique “sound” – and all it took was an unfortunate reindeer getting violently jammed into a meat grinder. Funny how inspiration can hit anywhere…
For a “comedy” there’s a tremendous amount of blood, gore and… vomit. Also, how many funny films involve hand-to-hand combat with a real life terrifying ferocious Wolverine!? The special FX team deserves an Oscar there for that, or not! “Heavy Trip” is most certainly not for the faint-hearted or easily offended.
It’s not all beers and belly-laughs though. Any good director makes sure to include light and shade and there’s definitely moments of darkness and uncomfortable questions raised about the futility of human endeavour. At moments there’s anti-racism subtext with regards to a darker skinned Laplandian resident of Turo’s care home. Also, an absolutely bonkers scene featuring Norway’s hyper-militant Border Control and a mini-bus of partygoers who’s Stag Night theme was a little too… Middle Eastern… for Border Control’s comfort.
The script does lean toward formulaic in parts and while there are certainly shocks and surprises along the way, there is an element of predictability present with regards to the resolution of various storylines. That being said, there’s not a dull moment in the film and the tension and drama mount to a point where you’re literally rooting body and soul for this Little Band Who Could. If something spectacular can happen for them, the most mundane Small Towners, something spectacular can happen for you.
So horns up, baby, bang that head and watch “Heavy Trip.” \m/
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