The Tripper (2007)
The Tripper (2007)

Genre: Horror Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Release Date: April 20th, 2007 MPAA Rating: R

Director: David Arquette Actors: David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Thomas Jane, Jaime King, Lukas Haas, Paz de la Huerta, Balthazar Getty, China Raven Crawford, Marsha Thomason, Jason Mewes

 


 

F

rom the opening citation by Ronald Reagan, to the intensely sadistic violence in the first few minutes of the film, it’s evident that “The Tripper” will be the type of exploitive horror schlock that is loaded with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll – as well as extreme political jabs and flower child killings. So what’s not to love? Well, as Reagan himself once said, “You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by the way he eats jellybeans.” Perhaps the ludicrousness and the irrelevance of that quote is meant to shed light on the mental state of the main antagonist at the heart of this straightforward slasher.

A group of hippies treks to a small town in the middle of a forest to participate in the Free Love Festival and indulge in massive quantities of narcotics. However, they soon discover that they’re not exactly welcome to the festivities – particularly when they’re assailed by paintball-gun-toting rednecks, the local police, and an axe-wielding serial killer who fancies Ronald Reagan. Despite a cast that includes such horror movie and character actor regulars as Courteney Cox, Paz de la Huerta, Balthazar Getty, Lukas Haas, Thomas Jane (the semi-sincere leader), Jaime King (the perpetually screaming, primary target), Jason Mewes, and Paul Reubens, none of the various victims or protagonists make much of an impression. They’re essentially all fodder for the hatchet.

“The Tripper’s” strongest point of originality (not that there have been too many other hippie serial killer movies) lies within its psychopathic murderer, who dons a suit, a tie, and a President Reagan mask as he metes out his vicious carnage. With an origin as brutally twisted as Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees, “Ronnie” seems destined to make his mark as a deranged slaughterer worth rooting for. And viewers undoubtedly will, but not because he’s a compelling villain, but rather because his prey is so uninterestingly bland – which is a shame considering that the casting choices should have been right at home with the offbeat comedy and drug-related humor. Aside from the baddie, the most entertaining characters are the bit parts – the roles that spout quick one-liners and display a few quirky mannerisms before promptly departing, just as their presence begins to bore.

Deceptive raunchy-comedy trailer aside, at its core, “The Tripper” is a horror movie. And while it does a decent job of bringing blood and scares to the table, the main course seems tainted with a bit too much social and political parody, an abundance of psychedelic contamination, and cocky sarcasm. The film doesn’t take itself seriously and makes no attempt to persuade viewers to do otherwise. This wouldn’t be a problem if “The Tripper” focused on humor, but at every turn, audiences are treated to another demented butchering that overshadows the mildly dark wit. And for anyone unfamiliar with the Reagan administration, it will be impossible to appreciate the commentary and gubernatorial jokes that frequent the script. At times, it’s as if “The Tripper” is intended to be a parody of horror films rather than a genuine thriller that includes a pasquinade of Reagan. In this medley of blood, hippies, and governmental rips, writer/director/producer/actor David Arquette imparts such a bizarre sense of humor and unconventional antics alongside unbearable cliches that viewers may need to partake in real drugs just to enjoy the fictional characters doing very much the same thing.

– Joel Massie

  • 5/10