Death metal is dark, intimidating, and foreboding. Ironically enough, Heavy Trip is none of those things. It’s probably the most lighthearted film I saw as part of the 22nd Fantasia International Film Festival, following a garage band of heavy metal outcasts who decide it’s about time they make it big. Within the span of a few days, they need a look, a promo photo, a gig – oh.. and some original songs, maybe.
One part road trip film, the other part coming-of-age, small-town hero story, Heavy Trip takes what you know and makes it METAL. The Finnish film is directed by duo Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren, with writing credits going to both, as well as Aleksi Puranen, and Jari Olavi Rantala.
The film follows lead singer (bellower?) Turo (Johannes Holopainen), who despite his long brown hair and intimidatingly broad shoulders squeezed into a leather jacket, is a timid, quiet soul. Every day he rides his bicycle through the suburban Finnish town to his orderly job at an in-patient mental hospital. Along with chill guitarist Lotvonen (Samuli Jaskio), goofy and lovable drummer Jynkyy (Antti Heikkinen), and the Posh Spice of heavy metal in bass player Pasi (Max Ovaska), they form the band Impaled Rektum. A band that’s spent 12 years playing basement covers and not much else.
This may be in part because there wasn’t anything to kick the band into gear. But Turo, crushing on the town’s soft spoken florist Miia (Minka Kuustonen), gets a fire in his belly after local crooner Jouni sets his sights on her. Jouni is a big fish in a small town, selling out the local lounge and driving around in a purple van with his face blown-up and emblazoned on this side. Turo is no match as the long-haired orderly, an extra straight out of the back of Garth’s car in Wayne’s World. ( “I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me,” ) What better way to woo the girl than for his band to play at the biggest film festival in Norway?
“..prepare for grave-robbing, viking ships, and some serious shredding.”
There’s only one problem. Well.. a bunch of problems. First – they don’t have a sound. In a shot of grotesque luck, Lotvonen is a deer butcher. A deer carcass gets caught in the grinder – creating a gritty, wet reverb that births the official sound of Impaled Rektum: “Symphonic Post-Apocalyptic Reindeer-Grinding Christ-Abusing Extreme War Pagan Fennoscandian Metal” as dubbed by the ultra deadpan Pasi. Second – they have no connections. That all changes when a record producer conveniently appears at the reindeer slaughterhouse, looking for blood for a gig stunt (how metal). After an unfortunate snafu involving buckets of wayward reindeer blood, Impaled Rectum gets their demo in the hands of the producer, and are quick to assume the festival gig is theirs for the taking.
Outcasts turn small-town-heroes, turn bumbling-adventurers as Impaled Rektum set out to make a name for themselves and play their first gig at the Norwegian festival. I don’t want to spoil the hi-jinks, so all I’ll say is prepare for grave-robbing, viking ships, and some serious shredding. The band is about to make it big, but they’ve got to make it to Norway first. Tune in, Turn off, and just go with it – Heavy Trip is a hilarious home for outcasts and misfits. A laugh riot for the rebellious, and call-to-arms for the underdog.
“..A laugh riot for the rebellious, and call-to-arms for the underdog.”
Heavy Trip is not unlike any rock n’ roll comedy you’ve seen before – but the members of Impaled Rektum (I think this review takes the cake for most times I’ve ever written the word ‘Rektum’) are so endearing and naively brazen that you can’t help but root for them – even though you know the universe of Heavy Trip has aligned the dominoes to drop and get them to the festival safe and sound (for the ..most part). Also – they’re actually a pretty kickass band.
Heavy Trip celebrated its Canadian premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal on July 26th. The film is being released through Doppelganger Releasing and will receive a limited theatrical run this October. Visit their website for Screening dates and details.
Check out more of Nightmare on Film Street’s Fantasia Fest Coverage here, and be sure to sound off with your thoughts over on Twitter and in our Facebook Group!