Panic Fest 2024 Review: OFF RAMP Celebrates Found Juggalo Family As Only Juggalos Can

Contributing Writer; Chicago, IL (@anotherKyleL)
Panic Fest 2024 Review: OFF RAMP Celebrates Found Juggalo Family As Only Juggalos Can

Off Ramp is never subtle.

Within the first five minutes, when Trey (Jon Oswald) is released from prison and says a heartfelt goodbye to correctional officer and fellow Juggalo (devoted fan of Insane Clown Posse) Faith (Laura Cayouette), the film begins delivering its message that found family, particularly Juggalo family, is often more loving than blood family. Over the next hour and a half, the movie repeatedly emphasizes that message through plot points, voiceover, a visual motif, and the declarations of love between its central pair.

The film follows Trey and his best friend Silas (Scott Turner Schofield), who is introduced caring for his non-verbal grandmother, as they set out for the annual Gathering of the Juggalos. It’s a classic road movie set up, and Off Ramp hits the requisite beats of encounters with colorful characters. Sadly for our heroic duo, most of those characters aren’t down with the clown.

There’s an early and literal run-in with the law when an elected sheriff spills coffee all over himself after bumping into Trey and aggressively blames him. Then the protagonists are pulled over by a cop because of the Insane Clown Posse (ICP) decorations on their van, an instance of harassment that’s been all too real for juggalos over the years, especially since the FBI categorized the group as a gang in 2011. Finally, they make a pit stop at an old acquaintance’s place, but Scarecrow (Jared Bankens) is more dedicated to money than juggalo family and holds onto an old grudge.

All these less than friendly faces only make the love and compassion of Trey and Silas stronger, though. They quickly take in Scarecrow’s younger sister Eden (Ashley Smith), who’s all but held prisoner by her paraplegic brother, who (in a plotpoint undoubtedly inspired by ICP’s horrorcore bonafides) believes her breast milk may allow him to walk again. A regular cutaway to two dogs wandering through woods adds a third dog when the two befriend Eden to reiterate the open, loving arms of the juggalo family.

That contrast of disturbing and sweet continues throughout the film, culminating in a climax that’s almost too on-the-nose about the terrible things blood relations can do to one another while also setting up a near-miraculous moment of love triumphing over evil. Add in the often silly humor that abounds in every scene and it’s possible to get whiplash from the tone shifts sometimes occurring within a matter of seconds, yet that tonal chaos is true to ICP’s music.

As a film about people brought together by music, the film’s soundtrack can’t, and doesn’t, make a false step, while also offering up a surprisingly diverse soundscape. There’s only one ICP song that plays in the film, in its final moments as a sort of culmination to the journey. Otherwise the soundtrack offers up hardcore, sludge metal, and a song from Psychopathic Records (founded by ICP) labelmate Ouija Macc. We’re also treated to some originals by Silas and Trey, with beats by Anthony Douglas Sanners aka One Man Kru. All these tunes are sonically held together by Rick G. Nelson’s score, which weaves a beautiful sonic tapestry of synths and electronic beats that perfectly navigate the film’s various tones.

The film doesn’t just sound amazing though, it also looks incredible. Writer/director Nathan Tape and cinematographer Bron Moyi make every moment, from Silas sitting next to his bedridden grandmother to the scenes of violence and the cutaways to the dogs, a joy to look at with a crisp look and gorgeous lighting. Unique shot choices, like shooting the side of Silas’s face from the backseat of the van as if we’re in the car with him and Trey, and unexpected reveries, like the camera tracking cigarette smoke in sunlight, bolster the strange coziness of the film.

Off Ramp is an equally odd and beautiful movie, and the juggalos wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s upsetting just so that it can be more wholesome. The film’s most emotionally potent moment is the choice to “capture the beauty” by having one character film others having sex. Scattered in the chaos are genuine pieces of wisdom like “there are a million ways to mourn, all of them are correct.” All that makes Off Ramp feel like an invitation to join the family, more than just a movie.

Off Ramp

  • Nathan Tape
  • Tim Cairo
  • Nathan Tape
  • Reed Diamond
  • Laura Cayouette
  • Jared Bankens
Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.
Insane Clown PosseJon OswaldLaura CayouettePanic FestScott Turner SchofieldNathan TapeTim CairoReed DiamondJared BankensAdventureComedyCrime

Around the Internet