David Arquette’s acting career has been an eclectic one to say the least. He’s achieved a modest success doing a little bit of everything – drama, horror, comedy, kids’ films, you name it, he’s done it.
Arquette’s directorial debut, The Tripper, is similarly scattered – parts slasher flick, political satire, and stoner comedy – and, unfortunately, suffers for it.
The Tripper’s deal is this – a group of hippies are headed to a music concert in the woods when they’re set upon by a serial killer in a Ronald Reagan getup (I’m guessing the title is a reference to Reagan’s nickname ‘Gipper’). He’s accompanied by an aggressive dog named, you guessed it, Nancy.
Both sides of the political spectrum get skewered here – the right-wingers are arrogant jerks, the left-wingers self-righteous flakes. Our hippie heroes are Bush-haters – save one, but even his praise of the U.S. president is decidedly backhanded – though they’re more interested in their next buzz than engaging in a heated debate.
In terms of feel, The Tripper harkens back to slasher flicks of the ’70s and ’80s, with an emphasis on ridiculous gore. Limbs are severed, victims are disemboweled, the blood splatter quotient is high.
Jason Mewes (‘Jay’ from the Kevin Smith movies), Jaime King, and Lukas Haas are among the recognizable hippie characters, The Punisher’s Thomas Jane plays a tough-talking sheriff, Paul ‘Pee Wee Herman’ Reubens takes a turn as a concert promoter fond of bribery, and Arquette plays a redneck named Muff. Oh, and from the ‘Whatever happened to…?’ file, Balthazar Getty has a bit part as the abusive ex of King’s character.
None of the performances stand out, and though Jane’s character provides some of the more amusing moments in the film he seems to have trouble getting some of his lines out. No time to read the script, Thomas, or was it more painful than being on the receiving end of one of Ronnie’s attacks?
The youngest kid in the Arquette clan does it all here – directs, produces, co-writes, acts – which could be part of the problem. Perhaps he was too busy wearing all those hats to see what his film was lacking – namely acting, a plot, and a script. All three were serviceable at best. Even the sillier moments, where Arquette could have let loose a bit, seemed forced.
And as a fan of horror and slasher flicks, I have to say it took way too long for the killing spree to begin. In fact 90 per cent of the carnage happened in the final act, when to keep things interesting it should have been more evenly spread throughout.
It’s too bad The Tripper, which just screened at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival and is now out on DVD, is so un-fun to watch, because Arquette seems like a cool guy who’s not afraid to take chances, career-wise. Maybe, with some better source material, his next film will see him come into his own as a director.
Cast: Jason Mewes, David Arquette, Lukas Haas, Jaime King, Thomas Jane
Directed by: David Arquette