Tripper, The (2006)

The Tripper (2006)

Move Over Jason, Look Out Freddie. HEEERE’S RONNIE!

A rural Northern California town prepares for it’s annual America’s Free Love Festival where hippies come for the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Also coming along is a serial killer sporting a Ronald Reagan mask, butchering teenagers to death with his axe and leaving jelly beans behind at the scene.


I just didn’t get this at all. Maybe it’s because I’m too young to have lived during the swinging 60s to fully understand the hippy thing. Maybe it’s because I’m not American so I didn’t really get all of the political jibes about Bush and Reagan. Or maybe it’s just because the film was rubbish and I didn’t feel like getting it. Before I go on, I’d like to point out that The Tripper isn’t some cheap-jack indie horror. David Arquette’s directorial debut has got decent production values, has managed to attract some big names for cameo roles and even manages a few shocking moments of violence. It’s just that the whole drugs thing is taken a little too far in places and you’ve also got to remember that it’s just a slasher film so there are no surprises as to what is going to happen at any point.

The Tripper is entertaining in places, frustrating in others. There is a decent amount of gore on display and a reasonable body count so the killer isn’t just twitching his thumbs (he takes a while to show up though). The Ronald Reagan killer has a mean streak a mile wide and when he starts butchering someone, he doesn’t just give them one or two whacks with his axe, he goes to town on them. I would have liked to have seen more of the deaths on screen but I guess it would get tiresome quickly seeing the same routine over and over. Just when things seem to be on the right tracks, Arquette goes over the top with his many drug-induced hallucination scenes. It may be mildly amusing the first time but it gets tiresome very quickly.

The political satire is also a problem for non-American viewers who may not have the slightest clue about Ronald Reagan and the state of America during his time in charge. I can’t really criticise this as I’m sure there are British horror films from the past that Americans wouldn’t ‘get’ due to their political relevance. Thankfully this isn’t fully developed once the blood starts flowing and it shouldn’t pose a major problem, just a mild diversion. There’s some nudity of the hippy variety although any horror film which features full frontal male nudity immediately loses all of it’s credibility in my eyes. It’s fair to say that a large majority of the slasher film audience is male so seeing some wiener swinging to and fro on screen isn’t exactly what I have in mind when I put in a slasher film. Sorry to sound sexist but the rules of the genre are clear!

Arquette clearly has a few friends in Hollywood and has familiar faces such as Jason Mewes (where’s Silent Bob?), Thomas Jane and Paul Ruebens (Pee Wee Herman) all pop up in small roles. Jane is the pick of the bunch as the local sheriff with a really bad ‘porn’ moustache that looks like he’s auditioning for a role in the Village People. The problem is that all of the characters are goofy or cartoony which turns the whole film into a bit of a joke. When the whole joke revolves around getting stoned (the film is obviously pro-drugs), it wears a little thin. Arquette spends too much time trying to make the film easy going and laid back when it could have done with a bit more of a killer touch. The jokey tone of the film is more damaging when most of the stuff just isn’t funny. Laying into stereotypes or smoking weed and tripping out isn’t exactly what I call comedy. It’s more than probable that a lot of weed was smoked on set and would explain a lot of what we seen on the screen.


The Tripper is a rather mediocre slasher with a few decent moments but it’s just too goofy for its own good without actually being funny. There’s way too much time spent getting stoned and not enough time getting slashed for my liking. The tagline reads “Move over Jason. Look out Freddie. Here’s Ronnie!” but I’d rather see Jason or Freddy killing people stoned than watch this again.





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