Till death do us part…
…Director Tommy Wirkola is probably best known for his zombie comedy Dead Snow—it’s amazing, go watch it—and with his latest, The Trip, which just premiered at Fantastic Fest, Wirkola delivers another hilarious, ultra-violent flick that will have you wanting to have and to hold it, for better and for worse, as long as you both shall live.
Since we’re not married, I hope you live longer than the film’s runtime, personally.
In The Trip, written by Wirkola, Nick Ball and John Niven (Kill Your Friends), we’re introduced to an unhappily married couple, struggling actress Lisa (Noomi Rapace) and her pretentious, soap-opera directing husband, Lars (Askel Hennie). Lisa and Lars are planning a trip to his father’s remote cabin for a “romantic” weekend getaway, but little do they both know that they each plan on killing the other during the trip. Mawwiage, it’s truly what bwings us together, eh?
You might read that synopsis and think that sounds a little like Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and you’d be right. Sort of. Only The Trip is better and bloodier than Mr. & Mrs. Smith. This is Mr. & Mrs. Smith from the over the top, gore-loving mind of Wirkola. It’s the ultimate anti-romantic comedy that blends in some of the most unorthodox marriage counseling ever put on screen.
From the opening scene in which we’re treated to a moment from Lars’ latest campy as hell soap, The Trip plunges the audience into a quirky world with a heightened sense of reality. The film is actually a lot like that soap. The cabin at which our protagonists are staying is bright and colorful with wallpaper that looks like fall threw up inside. Everyone has a secret. And nothing is ever as it seems. Including Lars and Lisa.
When we first meet them, Lars is your typical pathetic husband. His geriatric father doesn’t look at him like a man. He’s so scared of blood he can’t even touch a raw steak. And he takes shit from Lisa like he’s her personal toilet. She, on the other hand, appears like your average, stuck-up Hollywood starlet. Dressed in fancy clothes. Disinterested in everything. And deeply self-conscious about her acting career (which isn’t going so hot). The only thing these two have in common is that everything the other does annoys them, and they’re favorite hobby is tearing the other down.
The chemistry between Rapace and Hennie is a match made in Heaven. If you have (or are) that friend that’s always fighting with their partner, the two of them capture that particular spiteful frustration to a T. And it’s hilarious. Hennie has excellent comedic timing with his physicality, whereas Rapace is a pure delight in the way she spits out emasculating dialogue with a tough edge that had me cackling. These aren’t some one-dimensional characters though. The actors do wonders in portraying people that are quite truly awful, but who are endearing in their own insecurities and complicated feelings. After all, who hasn’t thought about divorce through hammer to the face once in a while?
Certainly not me! If my wife goes missing, it’s because she went on a dangerous hike that I totally said she shouldn’t go on…
In all seriousness, The Trip is one big giant metaphor for all of the complications that come with marriage, with our main couple working them out one stab at a time. In that, The Trip is a violent killer comedy that weds itself to gore and a whole lot of “I felt that” brutality. Remember that fight in the kitchen that opens Kill Bill? That’s half of The Trip. This fast-paced film plows through scene after scene with up close and personal violence. As if to replicate ten years worth of marriage in a single night, our actors take one hell of a beating as they’re knocked in the face, stabbed, thrown through walls, you name it. There’s an intense amount of physicality all throughout that will have you cheering, screaming, and squirming in your seat. The Trip is a non-stop freight train through the marriage from hell. All aboard!
That might all sound like a lot of films you’ve seen before, and it is, but what separates The Trip from this particular pack is how often it keeps the audience on their toes. There are so many surprises in The Trip it’s like a bundle of wedding gifts. I’m not talking about just a moment here or there, I’m talking scene after scene of Wirkola making an attempt to go against audience expectations and succeeding with flying blood-red colors. The Trip accomplishes this through subtle setups that payoff big later on, as well as through shocking violence and humor that isn’t afraid to cross the line. Hope you like literal (and nasty) toilet humor!
You might gawk at The Trip’s just under two-hour runtime, but Wirkola has a knack for injecting a hyper adrenaline into his work. The Trip hardly ever allows you to breathe because it continuously splits your sides with a laugh or a scream or both, which makes you look like the maniac!
If there’s any issue at all aside from the fact that The Trip isn’t exactly unique, it’s that for such a largely fun, charming, action-packed movie, it briefly falls into territory so dark that it threatens to ruin the fun. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a film taking a dark turn, but the darkness in The Trip is particularly ugly and conflicts with an otherwise outrageous tone. Still, a few brief, terribly uncomfortable moments are just that and any viewers that the film loses there will be quickly won back through The Trip’s sweet and sour flavor.
With The Trip, Wirkola continues to establish himself as a director who never fails to deliver something funny, bloody and highly entertaining. The Trip is a killer date movie with a badass performance from Rapace that hopefully convinces more directors to cast her in action roles. Noomi is a warrior.
Should you take The Trip to be your lawfully wedded weekend movie? Hell yes is the only answer.
By Matt Konopka