Directed by Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Aksel Henney
Until recently, it wasn’t even on my radar. When I went looking for Horror Comedies in October, however, this movie kept showing up, with many critics calling it “Mr. and Mrs. Smith for horror buffs.” I couldn’t resist, so I watched it in hopes that I could FINALLY fill that list. While this film ultimately proved to be more of a home-invasion thriller than a horror movie (though it DOES have plenty of blood and gore), this DID fit my November theme…
Just like last week’s post covered the “back in my day” grandparents role, The Trip emulates the bickering parents who need to hash out their issues… just not in front of everyone else.
Lars is a commercial director married to Lisa, an actress he met during a shoot. He convinced her to move to Norway to pursue acting in his country, especially because his big break was on the horizon.
Nearly a decade later, Lisa’s only gig is for an erectile dysfunction drug and Lars has been stuck doing more TV ads. To make matters worse, Lars’ dad is in the nursing home, so the couple’s comfy lifestyle is too much, a reality neither of them have quite processed. Life’s not what they thought it’d be, and Lisa and Lars have decided that their marriage is the decision where everything went wrong.
To patch things up, the two have decided to head to Lars’ father’s cabin for a late-autumn getaway. That goes well… until Lars enacts a murderous plot. On a “hunting excursion,” Lisa’s going to fall and hit her head, dying in the process. That goes well… until he unexpectedly falls asleep, waking up to a shotgun pointed at him. The one about to pull the trigger? Lisa! She had plans to murder him as well! That goes well… until– you get the idea.
This movie was like eating the best dessert of my life at the most toxic wedding reception. The dark comedy of both spouses so consumed by petty hatred that they kill each other is one layer of delicious entertainment, but their bubbling marital frustration makes their plans susceptible to sabotage. Their errors make for a sublime interplay of comedy flavors. For instance, Lars’ plan is sloppy, but he has a back up that gives him an exit if things go awry. Lisa’s plan, meanwhile, is more thorough, which leaves little room to maneuver if/when there are logistical hiccups. Since they’re so made at each other, they take no time needling the weaknesses in one another’s murder plots–usually when the insulter is the one tied to a chair!
The beautiful presentation of this comedic dessert/belabored metaphor is the reverse cinnamon roll plot this movie spins. In most films, the plot unravels, revealing its gooey core at the climax of its runtime. In opposite fashion, The Trip keeps adding layer upon layer of bumbling mistakes in the spouses’ respective murder plans! Only at the climax do we see the whole, delicious recipe.
The icing on the dessert is the gratuitous blood and gore!
That depends: Is over the top gore a flavor of comedy you like? If so, you’ll most likely dig the violent gags. If not, you’ll likely gag at the violence. To be clear, The Trip is a comedy thriller, but the (very funny) torture inflicted on its characters skews graphic. I definitely see how some viewers sorted it into horror.
Separately, The Trip is from Norway, so some viewers may shy away from reading subtitles. I encourage you, however, to watch this movie in its original language. While I’m normally a fan of well-made dubbing, The Trip strangely doesn’t have Rapace or Henney dub their lines in English… even though they both speak English fluently and have both played English speaking characters in the past. (Hell, Rapace has been a bankable Hollywood actress for 15 years now!) So much of the actors’ chemistry–ironically shining through by the characters’ purposeful LACK of chemistry–is flattened by subpar voice work from the English team. Don’t let it color your perception of this wonderful leading duo, especially because these characters take their viewers on one hell of a trip.