If you would have told me that a Finnish heavy metal road movie featuring corpses and a whole lot of vomiting would be one of greatest feel-good movies of 2018, I don’t think I would have believed you. But, here we are and Heavy Trip is just an absolute delight. Maybe that doesn’t sound very “metal” to you, but directors Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren have crafted an engaging story for anyone who has ever dared to have a dream, or wanted more from their lives, and aren’t about to let fate stop them, and I absolutely adored their endlessly charming tale of Impaled Rektum and their rise to glory. Heavy Trip is a love letter to all the metal heads out there who have long felt misunderstood by the outside world, and the perfect reminder to never give up your dream, regardless of who or what stands in your way.
Turo (Johannes Holopainen) is an aspiring musician who has been rehearsing with his band for 12 years now, but they’ve yet to write a song, perform live or even pick a name (Impaled Rektum is what they eventually settle on about halfway through the movie). His own fears have left him hesitant to move forward with his dream of being the lead singer of Finland’s greatest black metal band, but fate steps in one day, and suddenly Turo and his band mates are the talk of the (very small) town once it comes to light that the boys intend to play a kickass metal fest over in Norway. Impaled Rektum’s plans to play the most perfect gig go awry at nearly every turn, but Turo and his mates aren’t about to let anything stop them from sharing their music with the world.
I’m being slightly vague with my rundown of Heavy Trip but for good reason: there are several key moments that build to the finale of the musically-infused comedy that were genuinely surprising to me, and I want to help preserve that ride for anyone who gets to see this film down the line (Doppelgänger Releasing and Bloody Disgusting have teamed up to distribute Heavy Trip later on in 2018, which is great news, because this is the type of film that should be experienced on a big screen and with an audience). Suffice to say, Heavy Metal plays out like a mix of Airheads meets Little Miss Sunshine and it just left me with a big, goofy grin once it was over.
Holopainen’s performance as Turo is so genuinely affable that regardless of your feelings about black metal, it’s hard not to root for him or just fall in love with his character in Heavy Trip, because in one way or another, we’ve all been Turo. We’ve all wanted something more from life, we’ve all struggled with our own insecurities and I’d be willing to bet that most of us have all pined after someone that we weren’t sure whether or not they shared our affections. The rest of the cast in Heavy Trip are all equally engaging as well, but I must say that the film’s secret weapon is Max Ovaska as Pasi/Xytrax, the band’s bassist whose commitment to metal is on a completely different level from everyone else’s and he’s got some great subtle moments of comedy in this film that left me in stitches.
While some folks might be turned off by a movie with subtitles (yes, those people do exist unfortunately), the themes and comedy in Heavy Metal once again proves that cinema might just be the greatest universal language there is, as it was easy to fall into this world and the struggles of these characters who are just looking for their shot at immortality through their love of metal. If Heavy Trip happens to come your way later this year, do yourself a favor and be sure to check it out – in a world that is filled with so much ugliness these days, it’s precisely the kind of heartening anthem we need now more than ever. It would also make for a killer double feature with Deathgasm too.
Movie Score: 4/5
Editor's Note: Check here to read all of our reviews from the 2018 Cinepocalypse film festival!