'Heavy Trip' Is The Wild And Crazy Heavy Metal Comedy You Need In Your Life [SXSW]

Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren's Heavy Trip blast-beats a warrior's drum for road-trippin' comedics and heavy metal odysseys. This is a story of companionship bonded by outsider dismissal; a blossoming "Symphonic Post-Apocalyptic Reindeer-Grinding Christ-Abusing Extreme War Pagan Fennoscandian" metal band ready to break from their basement shackles. Laatio and Vidgren respect Nordic brands of face-melting musicianship rooted in mythology and "crappy fantasy novels" as Deathgasm does, except with a more Anchorman approach (animal fights, national crises, etc). To quote Jason Lei Howden's equally amplified metal adventure, this hilarious endeavor isn't just brutal – it's "brutal as f***!"Johannes Holopainen stars as Turo Moilanen, a Finnish metalhead who leads his cover band as its hair-windmill vocalist. There's also fret shredder Lotvonen (Samuli Jaskio), bassist/human encyclopedia Pasi (Max Ovaska) and blistering percussionist Jynkyy (Antti Heikkinen). Forever connected by a love of all music heavy and loud, they use Lotvonen's family-owned reindeer slaughterhouse property to practice. Day after day, night after night, they honor the metal gods of Dio and Diamond through replication, but their dreams beg for fame on a higher level. After fiddling with intonation and style, their first one-song demo is recorded. Thus begins their epic quest to play at Northern Damnation, a Norwegian metal festival that could change everything – if "Impaled Rektum" (their decided name) can get noticed, booked and given a chance.

With pride in mind, Heavy Trip is an ode to the unaccomplished dreamers. Impaled Rektum is made of butchers (Lotvonen) and librarians (Pasi) who sacrifice everything to live a life fulfilled. It's such a commonplace theme throughout cinema, but Laatio and Vidgren exuberantly express motivation backed by amp-quaking sonic breakdowns. The kind of stuff you'd crank through earbuds to get souped-up for a gym session. Adversity awaits around every corner – booking agents, hecklers, monetary hurdles – but nothing stops blind ambition. Not even an almost all-out war on the Finnish/Norwegian border (top-notch gag creation).

Impaled Rektum wins adoring fans through their first-time-fumbles charisma. These guys are every bedroom poster you've ever imagined from Turo's graphic logo tees to Pasi's transformation into corpse-painted, shoulder-spiked "Xytrax," but they behave without the accomplished cool of their idols. Lotvonen can't even churn an original riff when the boys first try to write a song, Pasi is quick to name the exact group Lotvonen is unknowingly mimicking (your Panteras or Eviscerated whatevers). Their collective immaturity and inexperience makes for an eager, devil-may-care band whose first on-stage experience is an epic failure (to Pasi's delight, because how metal is that), and that's the kind of lovable kinship you can expect. Underdogs you root for, legendary in their foolishness.

Heavy Trip plucks a ballad for the weirdos and misfits, frequenting insults like "homo" every time Turo gets heckled by bar bros or mustachioed lounge singer Jouni Tulkku (Ville Tiihonen). Mockery spans their "girly" haircuts to tight leathery garb to satanic undertones, but it's not just slurs for the sake of indecency. Impaled Rektum takes their lashings to the point of being laughed out of town, until Turo has a fantastic "EFF YOU" moment that involves his dudebro harasser and a confident kiss (his "manliest" response). For a European film that throws around derogatory jabs without restraint, the payoff is worthwhile and empowered. Individuality as a way of life, so righteous in the moment.

As soul-searching rambles on to face-punch symphonies of crunchy power cords, ridiculousness is the name of this blackened game. Even how Impaled Rektum discovers its unique sound is expectedly comical, as Lotvonen gets a skinned reindeer corpse caught in some industrial piece of butcher's equipment, the shuddering parts clunking and grinding to rhythm. Laatio and Vidgren lens so many scenes like something out of a Norse fable, Turo and his crew facing even the most mundane obstacles with the hardcore presence of Metalocalypse's Dethklok. Such a formidably funny rags-to-rockstars story about scoring one life-changing shot and the pure lunacy we're willing to endure along the way. Zoo enclosure fight sequences, religious-themed bachelor parties, rocket launchers, psych breakouts – you name it.

Without feeling the true scorch of Slayer-like tendencies, metalhead movies are nothing. Good thing Heavy Trip is forged from a crucible of everything held sacred to growlers, grindcore-ers, disciples of Bodom – references are steeped in sacrificial offerings to Odin himself. Care and understanding honors death metal royalty, from goat blood dousings to costumed lifestyles to music therapy by way of Satan's choir. This is no cop out. Analysis and anecdotes are out-of-bounds rad and musicianship a hammer that's dropped with first-pounding rage. Impaled Rektum's first song is a megaton of tonal punishment whether actors are actually playing their instruments or not – all the more impressive if so, but otherwise, the likes of Holopainen and his clan sell every faithful second.

Heavy Trip should be watched with the volume cranked, beers chilled and battle-axe sheathed. A barbaric laugh-riot fit to premiere inside the halls of Valhalla to sold-out crowds of headbanging savages. Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren score harmonized laughs by sailing the seas of death metal superstardom while still exploring infantile bumblings of first-time hotshots (band name suggestion scenes and all). Gags are in-tune (a very This Is Spinal Tap approach to Jynkyy's reckless drummer lifestyle or overt references like "Col. Dokken"), Nordic set pieces that recall viking battlefields of yesteryear and road humor a blissfully Apatowian middle-finger to conformity. Wail loud, scream proud and support this kooky exploratory import that's worth one hell of a night with rocksteady friends, horns in the air, until the final credits roll./Film Rating: 8 out of 10