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Off Ramp

Opens on March 22

Director: Nathan Tape Run Time: 91 min. Format: DCP Release Year: 2023

Starring: Ashley Smith, Jared Bankens, Jon Oswald, Miles Doleac, Reed Diamond, Scott Turner Schofield

East Coast Premiere

Filmmaker in Person!

Are you down with the clown? You may just find yourself converting to the church of the Dark Carnival after witnessing Nathan Tape’s assured feature debut OFF RAMP, an idiosyncratic road trip that follows two Juggalos through the hellish underbelly of the American Deep South. Tape doesn’t aim to ridicule the Juggalo lifestyle, just the opposite, in fact, with a riotously funny, deep-fried odyssey that centers a pair of lovable social rejects. Tape uses this framework to cultivate a story of kindness, bravery, and acceptance, featuring a reverent depiction of America’s most misunderstood and maligned subculture. Wait tho, before you go in thinking this is some sanitized touchy-feely bullshit, bear in mind that it’s saturated frame-to-frame with raps about titties, LSD-laced squirt guns, thunderous beats, and a caustic anti-authoritarian streak.    

Released after a stint in prison for a violent crime, Trey (Oswald) embarks on an interstate journey to Ohio with his best friend Silas (Schofield). They are bound for the annual Gathering of the Juggalos, a Shangri-La for freaks, outcasts, and miscreants to cavort in clown paint while spraying Faygo, having loads of tent sex, shitting in garbage cans, and bumpin’ to filthy rhymes. When Trey accidentally knocks into the local sheriff, soiling his shirt with soda pop, a chain reaction of unfortunate encounters with guncrazy cops, crazed necromancers, and other nasty folk along the way is ignited. Now on the run, it will take all the clown life resilience they can muster to make it to the Gathering in time.

OFF RAMP is outsider filmmaking at its finest, with a lived-in aesthetic that feels authentic as fuck, not contrived by an art director armed with a “white trash” checklist. Nope, Tape has loftier ambitions, to humanize and make us care about the unlovable and the detestable, those who are only searching for familial connection in a world that abandoned them. The film is anchored by two extraordinary lead performances, embodying two of maverick cinema’s most charismatic misfits, and supported by a stellar cast. It’s a film for the ride or die ninjas who krump at the altar of Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J. Can I get a “Whoop Whoop?”

Chris Hallock

Brattle Passes not accepted.


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