Death metal is awesome. That’s the central conceit behind Finnish, Norwegian, and Belgian film Heavy Trip. The story is that a Finnish band tired of playing in their basement decides to enter a Norwegian metal music festival. The movie is part getting the band together and part road comedy.
The setting appears to be in the 80’s or early 90’s during the height of death metal and its many related genres. The story mostly follows Turo who is the lead singer of the band and their unwilling publicist. Turo is immensely shy and like the rest of his bandmates are complete outcasts within their small Finnish town. The other bandmates have their own quirks as well and in the end you really grow to like these guys. The rest of the town has plenty of goofy characters but unfortunately they are not well-developed.
Alas, the under-developed nature leads into a larger issue with the movie in that many scenes just seem anti-climatic or lackluster. The first two acts are paced very slowly and the story really drives in the vileness of the town. Turo is vehemently harassed and after a while it just seemed unnecessary to the plot. There are some comedic moments but for some reason the timing just felt off and what could have been laugh would end up being only a chuckle.
One interesting choice is that the film is awfully quiet. There are many moments when Turo is riding is bike or talking to other characters and you really feel the quaintness of the town. Though this is a very intelligent decision because it amplifies one of the best aspects of the movie, the music. The soundtrack is amazing and if you are a death metal fan then you will be thoroughly head banging whenever a song comes up. There a couple of times when the band plays and the sound editing is amazing which makes it feel like you are at a live performance.
The movie really gains momentum in the final act which is about the last twenty minutes. It is at this point when the road trip starts and there is so much energy, music, and fantastical set pieces that it really brings the film together. The only issue is that it is so much fun that you wish that more of the film had been this way.
Heavy Trip had so much potential but even more charm. While slow and disappointing at times, the quirky characters, awesome music, and immensely entertaining final act make for a rocking ride.
Heavy Trip was presented at the Cinepocalypse 2018 event at the Chicago Music Box Theatre.