Stuck in a small, sleepy, rural village in Finland and mocked and harassed by smalltown homophobes and rednecks, the only escape for mild-mannered Metalhead Turo (Johannes Holopainen) is being lead singer and frontman of Impaled Rektum, the Death Metal band he formed at school with his best buddies.

But after 12 years of rehearsing in the basement of guitarist Letvonen’s (Samuli Jaskio) parent’s slaughterhouse and perfecting their own brand of music – dubbed â€œSymphonic, Post-Apocalyptic, Reindeer-Grinding, Christ-Abusing, Extreme War Pagan, Fennoscandian Metal” by Impaled Rektum’s glum, deadpan bassist Pasi (Max Ovaska) – the boys have yet to play a gig, due in part to Turo’s crippling shyness as well as their lack of original material.

A chance encounter with the promoter of Norway’s biggest Metal festival, Northern Damnation, might offer the band their shot at the big time however. But getting there is going to involve stealing their biggest rival’s van, a spot of body snatching, breaking their violent substitute drummer out of a psychiatric institute, a longship full of Viking LARPers and almost starting a war…

Already being billed as Finland’s answer to This Is Spinal Tap (which it cheekily references with a running joke about the mortality of the band’s drummer), there’s a sweetness to debut writer/directors Juuso Latia and Jukka Vidgren’s Heavy Trip, an affection for it’s alienated loser heroes and their subculture that just makes you smile whether it’s their earnest enthusiasm for their music (which really does involve grinding up reindeers!), their attempts to take a publicity shot involving a roadside speed camera, Turo’s awkward romancing of local florist and schooldays crush Miia (Minka Kuustonen), his anxious habit of vomiting on the audience or his way of dealing with bullying from the local redneck homophobes.

While the easy, freewheeling charm of the film’s first two thirds devolves into frenetic slapstick and wilful absurdity in the final act, you can’t help but root for these good-natured, starry-eyed wannabees. Cornered by the Swedish border patrol (and Miia’s disapproving cop dad) who suspect the band of being terrorists, as Turo tries to explain they’re just “a Metal band from Finland!” the film riffs on The Blue Brothers Pasi, in ludicrous Kiss-style face paint solemnly declaring “We’re on a mission from Satan!” only for the gun nut Swedish border patrolwoman leading the manhunt for them to answer “Listen, I love Satan as much as any woman in their 40s. But you’re coming up for interrogation right this moment.” Despite their devotion to the tropes of metalhead culture – â€œmythology, occultism, Satanism and crappy fantasy literature,” – the boys of Impaled Rektum are not the bubbling cauldrons of toxic masculinity of Lords Of Chaos. They just wanna ROCK! And you wanna watch them!

Sweet, funny and self-deprecating, Heavy Trip may just be the first feelgood comedy to involve corpse theft, breaking into a zoo to fight a wolverine and tipping a barrel of reindeer blood over someone. 

Rental Review: Heavy Trip
3.0Overall Score
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