While Trent Haaga will always be THE Troma actor for my generation, the thespian-turned-writer grabbed my attention with the sophisticated River’s Edge-esque coming-of-age horror flick Deadgirl, which took the Toronto International Film Festival by storm. But with a new decade comes new ambitions as Haaga makes his directorial debut with Chop, a horror comedy (penned by Adam Minarovich) that centers on a seemingly innocent young couple forced by a psychotic stranger to confront their duplicitous past.
It always makes me a bit nervous when an actor becomes a writer, let alone takes a stab at directing. But with Haaga things are a bit different as he’s homegrown by the New York nasties over at Troma. Low budget filmmaking is his forte, maybe even a place to call home? While Deadgirl took on the tone of directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, Chop has Haaga’s fun spirit plastered on every single frame. The whimsical, yet extremely dark horror comedy is a fast-paced, engaging experience that’s balls-the-the-wall insane. The dialogue is riddled with oddities that demand the audience’s full attention, while the actual hook has them clamoring for the finale. The more Haaga teased me, the closer to the edge of my seat I got, and the more maniacal I became (I probably looked like Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons” licking my chops, rubbing my hands together and deviously awaiting the big “twist”). The thing is, most films (indie or studio) lack a finale. I’d say I’m disappointed 99% of the time. But with Chop I could feel the energy continue to build; something told me I was in for a delicious treat. Without giving a single thing away, the payoff is so off-the-hook hilarious that you owe it to yourself to watch this with a group of friends so you can all chatter about how f*cked it truly is.
I reluctantly digress, Chop has it’s fair share of flaws from the poor cinematography to some atrocious acting, but the playful nature of the film makes it all too easy to overlook. In all honesty, who gives a flying f*ck so long as it’s a fun movie? Right?
Chop delivers on all sides by jam-packing the movie with laughs, gore and some insane twists that are guaranteed to get the room in a buzz. If Haaga were to ever “brand” himself, this could easily become his calling card. It carries the distinct maturity of a Troma veteran who can now put the past in the past and move forward to bigger and badder things like many before him.