According to a number of sources, Finland has the most metal bands per capita in the world, with erstwhile headbangers found across the Nordic country, in major cities and rural villages. It is a group of these small town metalheads and their dreams of glory that propel Heavy Trip (Hevi Reissu), a madcap comedy adventure that celebrates its World Premiere at SXSW 2018.
“We made this film as a kind of antithesis to Finnish films which tend to be pretty dark…”
Co-directed by Jukka Vidgren and Juuso Laatio, the movie follows Turo, lead singer of Impaled Rektum, a self-described “symphonic post-apocalyptic reindeer-grinding christ-abusing extreme war pagan Fennoscandic metal” band that has spent 12 years rehearsing in the guitarist’s parents’ reindeer slaughterhouse without actually writing a song or playing an actual gig. Meanwhile, Turo must compete with the smarmy local lounge singer for the affections of Miia, who works in the town flower shop, while dodging taunts and threats from other villagers, including Miia’s intimidating policeman father.
When fate interrupts with a visit from the promoter of one of Norway’s biggest metal festivals, the stage is set for an epic journey. Bands who have gone to great lengths to travel to SXSW should get knowing laughs watching Impaled Rektum’s wild, against-all-odds misadventures.
For Vidgren and Laatio, who have directed several heavy music videos and hail from Oulu, considered the epicentre of Finnish metal, the subject matter is close to their hearts. “Probably every town in Finland has a couple of metalheads walking the streets being given a lot of shit for their long hair,” says Vidgren. “But they choose to be themselves, and I think that’s something to be proud of.”
“There’s a weird contrast in the musicians too,” he continues. “Super angry music, played by really nice friendly guys. And playing some really niche-metal that most people would just consider loud noise is probably not going to make you rich or famous, so you know the motivation for these dudes is really the music.”
That contrast extends to Vidgren and Laatio’s conceiving Heavy Trip as a comedy. “We made this film as a kind of antithesis to Finnish films which tend to be pretty dark,” Vidgren explains. “We wanted to make a feel-good film … the kind where you really want the main characters to succeed, and to be genuinely funny.”