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Jonathan Weichsel Written by Jonathan Weichsel
Sep. 18, 2010 | 4:14 PM





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TRIPPIN’

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Movie Review by Jonathan Weichsel

One evening not too long ago, director Devi Snively was drinking at a bar when she noticed a man, Zed Wilson, who had a giant scar on his leg. Fascinated, Snively offered Wilson all the beer he could drink until he was done telling the story of how he got his scar. As anyone in their right mind would do, Wilson dragged his story out as long as he could. Snively eventually optioned the film rights to Wilson’s story for a case of beer and a role in the movie. The end result of this business transaction is a wildly entertaining film called Trippin’.

On the surface Trippin’ seems to be retelling the old horror tale of a bunch druggies stranded in a cabin in the woods, but at its heart this unique and original film is a character-driven dark comedy about a vacation ruled my Murphy’s Law, where anything that can go wrong does.

And a lot goes wrong. Trippin’ is full of accidental death, accidental drug trips, sex-acts gone horribly wrong, and practical jokes that have results which are much more horrible than intended.

The term horror-comedy is so loaded right now that I am loath to use it to describe Trippin’. Trippin’ is horror, and it is a comedy, but it is also a smart, multi-layered film which manages to avoid the genre-pandering and other pitfalls that have come to define today’s horror-comedy genre.

What separates Trippin’ from other horror-comedies is that the film’s object of ridicule is people, not movies, and social conventions, not film conventions. Trippin’ is campy as hell, full of drugs, gore, and sex, and loads of fun, but it never loses sight of the fact that interesting and ironic character dynamics are what make a film like this work.

Whenever Mickey is alone with her husband Joe, she has a laundry list of criticisms, but when they are with the rest of the group and other people make the same criticisms about Joe, she is the first to defend him. Jizz, the good girl, acts superior to the group because they all drink and do drugs and she doesn’t, but even as she is looking down on them, she also makes small, if failed, attempts to fit in. Jeremy seems to be attracted to Jizz, the good girl, but maybe this is because he can never get Holly, the bad girl, whom he loves, because she has a serious boyfriend.

Trippin’ is a character-driven dark comedy, but at the same time, it is also a horror film, and as with all great horror films, the fear comes more from what the characters don’t know than from what they do. Did the group see a man with a dead body rolled up in plastic in the back of his pickup truck, or was it just a rolled up carpet? Is there a killer in the woods named Old Eagle Eyes, or is it one of Joe’s practical jokes? Did Zed get attacked in the woods, or is he just lost? Why are there so many entrails lying about everywhere in the woods?

While Trippin’ does play with horror movie conventions along with social ones, where the typical horror-comedy is content with spoofing these conventions, Trippin’ goes much further. Rather than spoofing horror conventions, it subverts them. Trippin’ takes place in a moral universe diametrically opposed to that of most films in its genre, in which the annoying good girl who doesn’t do drugs or have sex is the first to die, and the “last girl” is replaced by a last dude.

Trippin’ is a high camp masterpiece. Subversive, funny, smart, and as the name of the director’s production company implies, deviant, it is a slasher film without a killer, where the real villain is the immaturity of its central characters. The cinematography is refreshingly colorful, and the f/x work during the tripping scene is surreal and top notch. The dialogue is full of wit and overall the writing is excellent.

With her feature film debut director Devi Snively breaths new life, vitality, and relevance into the old horror trope of a bunch of druggies stranded in a cabin in the woods. I might even go so far as to say that Trippin’ is the most original film about a bunch of druggies stranded in a cabin in the woods you will ever see. Unlike most contemporary films in the horror-comedy genre, Trippin’ is a film you can relate to.

Devi Snively’s short films have screened at over one hundred and fifty film festivals. Chicago Now recently named her the sixth most important woman in the history of Horror. To learn more about her films, visit her production company website: http://deviantpictures.com/,/b>

 


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