Monday, June 2, 2008

The Tripper

The Tripper is a movie that doesn’t seem to know quite what it wants to be. At times, rookie director David Arquette piles on the political satire, and at other times, seems to be making a straight-forward slasher film. It isn’t easy for anyone (other than George Romero) to make a horror film that is also social commentary, and Arquette just doesn’t have the chops to pull it off.

The movie starts off in the sixties (I guess) when activists try to block loggers from cutting down a stand of old trees. We know from the introduction to the movie that one of the loggers needs to work to buy medicine for his sick wife. He flips out, threatens the tree-huggers, and is arrested. Fear not, however, since he brought his small boy with him. Junior grabs a chainsaw, and cuts down the activist.

Flash forward to the present day, although it doesn’t look like the present day. A group of hippies are journeying to the same woods for a festival of Peace, Love and Music. They are poorly received by the hippie-hating locals, and the chief of police, Thomas Jane (Arquette’s brother-in-law). Amongst the non-actors in the hippie contingent are Marsha Thomason (TV’s Las Vegas) and Lukas Haas.

The hippies don’t get to enjoy the festival, since they are soon stalked by an axe-wielding psycho wearing a Reagan mask. Most of them are far too baked to avoid the peril, and soon end up as chopped pork.

The movie just isn’t funny enough when it tries to be funny, or suspenseful enough when it needs to be suspenseful. Arquette forgot to develop the characters enough for us to identify with them, always necessary in a slasher flick. Instead, the viewer mostly roots for the stoned morons to get what’s coming to them.

The movie doesn’t have a bad look, and there are occasional glimpses at something better, so Arquette may very well one day make a good movie. But The Tripper isn’t it.

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