Just when you think that
there is no horror film idea that can surprise you, there comes something
like The Tripper – which if nothing else has a truly unique concept.
A weekend music festival
being held deep in the backwoods is stalked by an axe-wielding maniac in a
Ronald Reagan mask with a taste for hippie blood. As he stumbles
through the brush, in a blue power suit and tie which never seems to get his
victims' blood on it – he imitates little political soundbytes about Nancy
and Patti and just saying no – all the while trying to tear down their walls.
It is the first red state
vs. blue state slaughter fest.
Co-written and directed by
comic actor David Arquette and co-produced with wife Courtney Cox Arquette
(who also has a cameo appearance) it seems an odd choice of subject matter for them
you remember that they have a history in horror together. The couple
met when making the first Scream movie in the 90s.
It gives lots of Arquette's
hipster friends – including Cox, Jason Mewes, Lukas Haas, Marsha Thomason,
Paul Reubens, Balthazar Getty and others – the opportunity to die
horrifically on camera.
It also takes lots of
political potshots – many at Reagan (the most overrated President of our
lifetime), some more at George W. Many of
them are deserved, yet the savagery of the goings on around them totally
overpowers any kind of political points that Arquette may be trying to make.
Also, it doesn't really help his points that in general the hippies and
left-leaning sorts in the film are every bit as big assholes as any of the
rednecks (well, with the exception of the killer, of course.). The
kids at the concert are drug-addled, sex-addicted, selfish and stupid.
I know that is sort of Arquette's point, but it still muddies the waters.
Of course Ronnie is not
completely partisan, he kills lots of rednecks as well as the hippies.
("But I'm a Republican," is the last thing whimpered by one of the victims
as he faces the ax.)
Which leads you to wonder,
is Arquette trying to make an old school slasher film or a very dark
political comedy? Honestly, it's a bit of an uncomfortable fit.
To give you an idea of the
level of the political satire here, one of the main suspects has a black SUV
with vanity license plates which reads "REDST8S." When the Sheriff
interrupts the killer in one of his murderous attempts, the lawman says
contemptuously "Is this what you call compassionate conservatism?"
No, nothing is subtle in
The Tripper, including some of the most realistic cinematic depictions
of an acid trip ever filmed (which is, honestly, kind of interesting). The violence and gore is totally over the
top. There is full-frontal nudity of both sexes. The characters,
on both sides of the political divide, are clichéd stereotypes.
After all the mayhem, the movie ends on an odd
note, running over the closing credits a reggae-backed speech by Robert
Kennedy, Jr. about the dangers of ignoring the environment. It's a
stirring, scary, important speech, but it feels completely out of place
after the 90 minutes of gore, drugs and debauchery which have preceded it.
I suppose that it's nice that Arquette tried to get people to listen to it
any way he could, but I have the feeling that the kind of people who want to see
The Tripper will already be halfway up the aisle (or pressing the eject
button) long before Kennedy's vital message is delivered.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: October 10, 2007.