The Tripper (2006)

Directed By: David Arquette
Written By: David Arquette
Starring: Jaime King
  Lucas Haas
  Thomas Jane
  Paul Reubens
The Tripper

Directed by, written by, produced by and starring David Arquette. Words that may send shudders down the back of anyone who’s seen Eight Legged Freaks, any of the Screams or the Godawful TV series In Case of Emergency. The plot also yells of mediocrity – a group of hippy twenty-somethings travel to a free love festival in some backwards forest and end up running for their lives from a psycho dressed up like Ronald Reagan. Yet despite all these things against it, The Tripper is not terrible. It simply happens.

The Tripper is Arquette’s pet project, something he worked on for four years before unleashing it upon the masses, and he managed to gather together a reasonable cast despite its low budget, cheap horror feel. Kevin Smith veteran Jason Mewes stars alongside Jamie King, Lucas Haas, Thomas Jane, Paul Rubens and Arquette’s lesser known, more portly brother Richmond. Even Courtney Cox appears for one brief cameo, before being thankfully removed from the screen by dogs. It is this “I recognize him / her” feel that adds a little more to this rather generic little horror, and the cast seem to be really enjoying themselves even when the audience aren’t. The actors will never win any acting awards for this unless there’s an award for “being yourself” – no one stretches themselves.

The Tripper begins with a flash-back to our killer’s childhood, where he witnesses his lumberjack father’s accidental death via an environmentalist tree-hugger. He is carted off to an asylum after he exacts instant revenge with a chainsaw. Cut to a version of present day that feels like it dropped out of a 70’s porn movie, and foolishly Paul Rubens has organized a massive hippie free-love festival in the very woods crazy-kid has returned to as an adult, freed from his mental asylum by Ronald Reagan’s budget-cutting nuthouse abandoning policies of the late 1970’s. And he’s still very crazy and he really doesn’t like hippies.

As originality goes, our antagonist is a stereotype. He is clinically insane, wears a mask and has misguided prejudices against a clique of people who harmed his family in the distant past. What’s more, and what’s worse, are the plethora of other characters who tick every box on the cliché table – stoner kids who think the killer’s a hallucination, angry ex-boyfriends being fingered for the crime, disbelieving cops, greedy event organizers, bullying hick idiots etc… etc… We even have the classic movie maths of Drugs + Sex = Death, a cliché so old it has mould.

Taking all this into account, however, and you’re still in for a good time, albeit an expected and mock-worthy one. It’s knowingly silly and nobody involved seems to mind this. Apparently we’re supposed to care for the drug-wary Jamie King who’s escaping her violent ex, but instead we care more for Thomas Jane’s mustachioed local cop, whose flee through the woods from a pack of insane dogs is genuinely funny. Sadly, 99% of the characters are unlovable and pointless, so the audience doesn’t care if they live or die, and any political point Arquette may have been making is completely diluted by the farcical nature of the piece.

For cheap, uninspiring cheeky horror, The Tripper will do fine if you’ve misplaced your copies of Shaun of the Dead or Evil Dead, but this won’t be in anyone’s favourite films list. Probably not even David Arquette’s.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

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