Cinepocalypse 2018: Heavy Trip (2018 - dir. Juuso Laatio, Jukka Vidgren)

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The world of heavy metal and horror movies have gone hand in hand ever since Ozzy Osbourne walked out of Mario Bava's Black Sabbath knowing the new name of his band. The imagery of demons, torture, curses and murder is an easy sell to unhappy adolescents the world over. Whether depicted on album covers or movie posters, a desiccated sneering corpse is just fucking cool and deserves to be hung on closet doors with reverence. But, with few exceptions, it seems the world of heavy metal's sole connection to cinema has been horror. Movies like Deathgasm may capture the epic and badass feelings we have when we listen to heavy metal, but the truth under those feelings is the truth at the core of every sub-culture: a group of dorks who have found something that makes them happy.

Heavy Trip is a new Finnish comedy about a group of small-town dorks who have found something that makes them happy. There's Turo (Johannes Holopainen), the brutal black metal vocalist with stage fright, Pasi (Max Ovaska), a musical savant rhythm guitarist who quickly christens himself Xytrax (a demon in King Diamond facepaint), Jynkki (Antti Heikkinen), a fun-loving slob with drum skills to spare, and Lotvonen (Samuli Jaskio) who alternates between working at his family's reindeer slaughterhouse and shredding out insane riffs. Together they are Impaled Rektum, the self-proclaimed kings of symphonic post-apocalyptic reindeer-grinding Christ-abusing extreme war pagan Fennoscandian metal band. Self-proclaimed because no one else can remember a sub-genre that long. When inspiration strikes (due a reindeer corpse stuck in a meat grinder, naturally) they cut a demo and are soon on the path to playing a Norwegian metal festival.

This is where the film takes what could have easily been a boilerplate slobs vs. snobs story and turns it into something much more interesting. The former outcasts quickly become local celebrities as townsfolk beam with pride at the thought of someone from their town making it all the way to perform in Norway. There a very warm heart at the center of Heavy Trip that separates it from basically every other heavy metal movie. You wouldn't think a movie with corpse-theft and people being dowsed in reindeer blood could be so sweet. But as Impaled Rektum makes their journey from nobodies to legends, the consistent factor is that all along the way they run into different groups of dorks who have found something that makes them happy. The movie pushes past the aggressive posturing of metal and finds something real and loving at the center. The story is less Spinal Tap than it is "The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton". Hail Satan.

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