David Arquette puts the axe to a group of hippies in his directorial debut but fails to capture the slasher charm.
A music festival in the woods is drawing dozens of hippies to dark seclusion illuminated by strobe lights and clouded by smoke. Unfortunately for the drug-addled teens, a maniac in a Ronald Reagan mask has taken offence to the gathering and intends to dismember it – literally. Sheriff Buzz Hall (Thomas Jane) is being directed to keep things quiet but his sense of duty takes over when the body count starts to rise.
The most intriguing element of this plot was the concept of a Ronald Reagan serial killer. Regrettably, Arquette does not take advantage of the iconic persona. It would have been enjoyable to hear the killer utter Reagan catchphrases before slaughtering his victims; after all, he is killing based on his allegiance to the president’s beliefs.
Furthermore, the free love and rampant drug-use of the 1970s is impractically transplanted to the new millennium. The characters created are less credible in the current age; therefore, it would have been more feasible to situate this murder spree during the Reagan era.
The all-star cast includes Kevin Smith’s sidekick Jason Mewes, Lukas Haas and Jaime King as doomed party-goers, Paul “Pee-Wee Herman” Reubens as the shady concert promoter, Balthazar Getty as the rejected Republican boyfriend, as well as cameos from Arquette and his wife Courtney Cox Arquette. But with a cast this big and recognizable, the anonymity that made slasher characters so relatable is lost. On the other hand, it is entertaining to see the celebrities get maimed. The stand-out performance among them, however, is Jane’s Sheriff, whose performance overshadows even the stalker’s.
The originality of the killer’s disguise and psychedelic style adds to the usual slasher fair from which The Tripper is derived but does not bring it to par with its forebears.