Trippin’ (2011)

Rating: B-

Dir: Devi Snively
Star: Zed Wilson, Nicole Buehrer, Lindsay Robertson, Jake Perry

There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking about the concept here – six friends head off to a cabin in the remote woods, share stories of a psychotic killer reputed to roam the area, and find out that the number returning to the big city will not equal the number who left. However, there are a couple of interesting twists to the idea. Firstly, the threat is as much internal as external, with the modified states of consciouness of the characters, thanks to a copious amound of mind-altering substances, making them especially vulnerable to their own fears and paranoia – this is apparent from their first road encounter (right), which they choose to interpret in the worst conceivable way, whether accurate or not.

Secondly, it is depressingly common for the characters in this kind of film to be shallow and immensely irritating. While no-one would exactly describe the ones here as possessing hidden depths, they are by no means painful to spend time with: complete stoner Zed (Wilson) is particularly amusing, with a cheerfully open approach to life, liberty and the pursuit of pharmaceuticals. It’s definitely the movie’s strongest suit, and hard to say quite who deserves credit, since it could be the casting process, the actors, the script or the director: probably a combination of them all. This eases the movie over a lot of ground when perhaps it isn’t really horror at all. One of the promotional lines is, “It’s The Big Chill for a Kevin Smith generation with a puppet!” – and that’s not an unfair assessment.

There are some moments of gore, most notably an icky sequence when one of the characters falls onto a bear-trap, which could be seen as the animal kingdom’s revenge for the earlier use of a sink-plunger by token square Giselle (Buehrer). But this is more psychological than physical horror. Oh, the puppet? Yeah: that’s during a trip sequence, which combines live-action, animation and the aforementioned mannequin to impressively psychedelic effect, leading to self-mutilation. That’s just a fraction of the ways in which things fall apart, with tension growing among the cabin-dwellers as their relationships grow strained, and all the pot in the world can’t help. While fairly disposable, Snively takes what could be just a tired horror staple and moves it in different directions, coming up with something much more original than I expected.