I have to admit that HEAVY TRIP is the film I was most excited to review for Fantasia Film Festival. I am a big music fan, so movies about music and especially movies about bands, when they’re done right, always end up being personal favorites that I can watch again and again. From Sid & Nancy to Frank, there are a lot of great films out there about the free spirit of rock & roll, and HEAVY TRIP is another film to add to the pantheon.
Set in rural Finland, we follow the exploits of Turo (Johannes Holopanien; Tellus, Unknown Soldier), Jynkky (Antti Heikkinen; Tripla, Wendy and the Refugee Neverland), Lotvonen (Samuli Jaskio; Handgun: A Case For Erectile Dysfunction), and Pasi aka Xytrax (Max Ovaska; Unknown Soldier, director of Korjaus and Sokootreffit). At the outset of the film the foursome is part of an unnamed band that has practiced in the basement of Lotvonen’s dad’s reindeer slaughterhouse for 12 years. Not only have they never played a show, or named their band, they’ve never played an original song, until one day when some stubborn reindeer legs gets stuck in the industrial meat grinder and Lotvonen decides that the sound it made will be the bands sound.
Soon, the band has recorded one song on a tape. By a weird chance event, a man came to the reindeer slaughterhouse looking for reindeer blood, and after Lotvonen accidentally spills an entire barrel on him, they find out this man is the head of the Northern Damnation music festival in (honestly where the hell else could it be) Norway. Jynkky, who could be described as the wildcard of the group, runs up to the man as he’s driving away and gives him the tape of the song they just recorded. This is the impetus to the HEAVY TRIP that is alluded to in the films title. Turo, our lead singer, is very shy, despite being a singer for a black metal band, and is terrified to sing in front of other people. However his crush on local florist Miia (Minka Kuustonen; Beauty and the Bastard, Wendy and The Refugee Neverland) leads him to fudge the truth a little bit to tell her that his band is definitely playing at Northern Damnation. Part of this is due to the perfectly played scumbag lounge singer who is also vying for Miia’s affections, Jouni (Ville Tiihonen; Hellsinki, Putous) who comes across as a mix of Jimmi Simpson’s McPoyle from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Joel McHale when he’s playing someone smarmy and scummy…which is often.
This is just the beginning and I haven’t even mentioned the hilarious Pasi, the band’s bass player with an encyclopedic memory of, well, basically, everything, who decides to turn his name to Xytrax and start dressing like King Diamond and a reindeer had a baby. He is the one who ends up coming up with the bands name, Impaled Rektum. Additionally, there’s Oula (Chike Ohanwe; If You Love, Mahdoton morsion) the first black person that Turo’s ever seen and a patient in the closed ward of the mental hospital where he works, that ends up playing a pivotal role in the trip.
The film is fast paced and hilarious. The music is incredible if you enjoy metal, and even if you don’t, it fits the timbre of the film so well; you could probably deal with it anyway. Big props go out to Villi Robert Ollila and Mika Lammassaari (the films music department) for a great job melding the metal into the veins of the film. Lastly, Juuso Laatio (Dr. Professor’s Thesis of Evil) and Jukka Vidgren (Tough Love, Dr. Professor’s Thesis of Evil) directed a perfect wacky musical comedy. In addition to Vidgren and Laatio, Aleksi Puranen (Rough Ride) and Jari Olavi Rantala (Frozen Land) wrote an excellent script that literally never has a dull moment. I seriously now want to go back and watch all the other projects these folks have worked on because I suppose I have been sleeping on some great cinema from Finland.
Don’t miss out on this film if you have a penchant for comedies like Trailer Park Boys, Spinal Tap, Empire Records, Airheads, etc. or if you know and like Pantera, Mayhem, Children of Bodom, King Diamond, etc. etc. ad infinitum. This movie combines the best elements of all those movies and all those bands and spins them on their head. HEAVY TRIP premieres at Fantasia Film Festival on Thursday, July 26th and plays again there on the 30th. It’s still making its festival rounds so look out for a future US theatrical debut in the (hopefully very near) future. I watched it at home and you can certainly bet that I’m going to see it in the theater as soon as I have the ability to so I can hear the awesome black metal and see the hilarious antics the way they are intended to be listened to and seen. I highly suggest you do the same.