CFF 2024: OFF RAMP – a Chaotic Juggalo Road Movie with A LOT of Heart

The film is screening virtually as part of the The Chattanooga Film Festival – running from June 21-28. Get more info here! 

To say the Insane Clown Posse’s Faygo swilling fandom affectionately called Juggalos are misunderstood, is the understatement of the century. Once misclassified as a “criminal gang” by the FBI, the facepaint wearing fans of ICP’s horror themed hip hop are a surprisingly wholesome bunch, and are as obsessed with the concept of family as Dominic Torreto. While the clowns themselves have released several films on their own. (Big Money Hustlas is my personal favorite!) I’m surprised it took this long for someone to turn the camera around in a fictional narrative and dig into the fascinating culture. 

Off Ramp follows two Juggalos, Trey (Jon Oswald) and Silas (Scott Turner Schofield), who are about to embark on a roadtrip through the deep south to the yearly Gathering of the Juggalos, basically a yearly Woodstock for Juggalos, where the duo have been booked to perform a set. When we first meet Trey, he is just finishing up a year stint in prison for an altercation that happened because he was protecting his friend Silas. While at first Trey is reluctant to venture to the gathering because he is on his third strike, he relents when Silas promises to stay out of the trouble. As the two begin their journey in their “hatchet wagon”, they veer off the freeway and stop in a small town in Louisiana, where the pair accidentally cross the local small town sheriff, who now stands in the way of the pair making it to the Gathering. 

While not softening their prickly edges Nathan Tape masterfully humanizes our duo in a way I didn’t expect. While he could have taken the easier route simply making them the comic relief, Tape instead uses the film to create these sympathetic character studies of two people who come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect, only to run away to the dark carnival to find a family with the Juggalos. It’s something that does as much for non fans and as it will fans of ICP, because of how we’re able to connect with Trey and Silas in a way that makes the fandom more accessible. Taking a page from another counterculture road movie about a pair of free spirited travelers, Easy Rider, the two are hassled and ridiculed for their appearance by old heads and by the police, while picking up some likeminded friends along the way. 

Needless to say Off Ramp impressed the shit out of me. The cinematography was top notch, the soundtrack had actual ICP on it, which infers a cosign from the group, and the performances were completely unexpected in their complexity and sincerity. It’s when the duo meet Eden (Ashley Smith), a young Juggalette that Nathan really gets a chance to open the characters up and at that moment crystallize the film’s ideas in a rather uplifting message of acceptance and hope. Of course our heroes get into trouble and have to take on the man, but Tape is extremely careful of how his characters act and react in these intense situations so as to not alienate the goodwill he’s earned our Juggalos along the way. If you’re a Juggalo you’re probably going to see your next favorite film, if you’re not a fan, you about to witness a downright masterful exploration of a misunderstood subculture onscreen. 

Whoop whoop!

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