In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Toronto After Dark, I will be revisiting one film from each year of the festival. Please be aware that these discussions may include SPOILERS.
Toronto After Dark saw some growth in its second year. The festival expanded from five to seven nights and included films such as Lloyd Kaufman’s Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Uwe Boll’s In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, and Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective. The festival also screened Jim Mickle’s Mulberry Street, which won the festival’s Spirit Award, and the Thai horror film Alone, which won that year’s audience award. The film from Toronto After Dark 2007 that I chose to profile is The Tripper, the directorial debut from actor David Arquette.
In hindsight, I have to admit that I chose the wrong film to profile, since I have to say that I thought that The Tripper was an absolutely atrocious film. However, that’s not to say that the film didn’t have promise. The film’s premise, which has a group of hippies being stalked by an axe-wielding maniac wearing a Ronald Reagan mask, sounds absolutely great on paper. However, the execution of the film made for an excruciating viewing experience.
First I will list off the few positive aspects of The Tripper. For starters, the film has a quite solid cast for what is ultimately a very independent production. This includes Jaime King (Sin City) as the lead Samantha, Lukas Haas (fresh off his memorable role in Brick), a very young Paz de la Huerta, and a nearly unrecognizable Jason Mewes. Then there is Thomas Jane, who gives the most solid performance in the film as the gruff police officer Buzz.
Probably the biggest problem with The Tripper is that David Arquette simply isn’t all that good a director. The film gets the slasher film elements right and there are some pretty impressive kills in the film, which all utilize practical gore effects. However, the story that ties this mayhem together frankly isn’t all that good. I was curious as to actually why this film was called The Tripper and then I found that the plot of the film is practically just one drug trip after another, which the slasher film mayhem thrown in between.
There is an enjoyable slasher film hidden somewhere within this mess, however The Tripper ended up being a highly disappointing viewing experience.