Trip Movie Review: Solid comedy anchors this convoluted journey
Although slasher films are dime a dozen in the West, the genre isn't well-explored in Tamil cinema. Trip is the latest addition to this burgeoning list
When characters in movies hear a folklore about a dense forest with 'secrets', we know there's adventure awaiting them...mostly a cliched one. When they take the proverbial wrong turn, we so want to reach into the screens and steer them on to the right path. We want to yell at them for not listening to their guts and falling prey to whatever it is that is tormenting that forest. Since the days of yore, a slasher film invariably begins and ends in the same way. A group of friends find themselves in known, yet unheeded danger. They start dropping dead one by one. The ones remaining just about manage to escape, and eventually… this tale, if any good, gives birth to a money-spinning franchise.
Director: Dennis Manjunath
Cast: Yogi Babu, Karunakaran, Sunainaa, Praveen Kumar
Although slasher films are dime a dozen in the West, the genre isn't well-explored in Tamil cinema. Trip is the latest addition to this burgeoning list. It is heavily inspired by famous slasher flicks like Tucker and Dale Vs Evil, but director Dennis Manjunath disarms any criticism on this count by beginning the film with the famous Quentin Tarantino quote — “I steal from every movie ever made” — and following it up with a tongue-in-cheek "I agree to this."
Azhagan (Yogi Babu) and Amuthan (Karunakaran) are in the forests to do what one Mr Gopal did in Chandramukhi — to work on a solitary house in a deserted place. However, a group of friends led by Lidi (Sunainaa) and Vikram (Praveen Kumar) wrongly assume that Azhagan and Amuthan are cold-blooded, chainsaw-wielding killers. Now, this film could have been a gory comedy-of-errors. But…
Just like the age-old trope of the black guy in the group being the first victim in a slasher flick, Trip has a Muslim guy taking the first hit. Coincidence? I hope so. There are also multiple threads running among the members of the group. There's a blossoming romance; a married couple that keep on bickering; the brooding hero; and a couple of other characters to make up the numbers. As the film progresses, and the murders get bloodier, the narrative forces us to empathise with these deaths. Now, this film could have been a relationship drama in the guise of a bloody slasher flick. But…
There is a sci-fi narrative as an undercurrent to the entire film as well. This is the only original concept in Trip, and full marks to the filmmaker for sketching a believable reason for bringing cannabilism into the narrative. Now, this film could have been a smart zombie film of sorts with a comprehensive dose of science fiction. But…
Trip falls prey to the LCD (Lowest Common Demand) of Tamil cinema and wants to be everything. It wants to be a comedy. It wants to be a relationship drama. It wants to be a sci-fi thriller. It wants to be a friendship film. It wants to be all this and much more, and in the process loses out on the most basic requirement of all — consistency. The frequent tonal shifts are jarring. In one scene, some characters peddle funny one-liners just after witnessing the gruesome death of their friend. Reducing the plight of these victims to an afterthought is a strange choice. It wouldn’t have mattered if the entire film was treated as a dark comedy. But here, there's an unsettling oscillation between the serious portions and the comedy. The group of friends too, barring Kalloori Vinoth, are given very little to do other than say the most perfunctory lines with a straight face. There is no real emotional connect with any of the other characters.
This isn’t novel territory for Yogi Babu and Karunakaran, who are a hoot in this film. As long as Trip trains its spotlight on these two bumbling friends, it is a fairly entertaining ride. Even Sunainaa is much more comfortable goofing around with this duo than when running away from cannibals. But when the film shifts to serious territory, with deaths in abundance, it leaves us confused. Are we supposed to laugh at one of Yogi Babu-Karunakaran's free-wheeling wisecracks or shed a tear or two for those dead friends?
It isn’t exactly a case of being caught between a rock and a hard place. But when caught between laugh-out-loud comedy and blood-thirsty cannibals, it is safer to choose comedy...always.