Film: Trash Humpers (directed by Harmony Korine)

I’m still not quite sure what to make of Harmony Korine’s new feature, Trash Humpers. Read my review for Blurt and watch the trailer below, and you still won’t have any idea. Watch the film when it comes out on May 7, and you might not be any better off.

Harmony Korine‘s new film, Trash Humpers, is either a put-on or performance art, but it’s definitely not a narrative and it’s dubious as to whether there’s even any meaning to the film, such as it is. That is not to say it is without value, I suppose, but it’s sure to divide evenly between admirers and haters. So sure, that perhaps it’s almost too easy to dismiss this bizarre new feature from the one-time Werner Herzog protégé. There is no doubt that Korine knew what he was up to.

The director summed it up quite succinctly in the press release: “A film unearthed from the buried landscape of the American nightmare, Trash Humpers follows a small group of elderly ‘peeping Toms’ through the shadows and margins of an unfamiliar world.” In layman’s terms, that means a couple of guys and one girl, including Korine himself (who is behind the camera most of the time), dressed up as old people and humping trash, screeching, destroying shit, and talking and singing nonsense.

The film is shot in the style of an old VHS tape, often falling out of tracking and occasionally superimposing “rewind” or “pause” over the images. The visual quality, the summertime Nashville at night setting, and the burn-victim makeup of the main characters bring The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to mind, as these old, pervy Leatherfaces go about their business. John Waters, Herzog’s Heart of Glass,Jackass, and Lars Von Trier’s The Idiots also seem to be points of reference.

It’s hard to imagine that this film would even be under discussion if Korine did not make it, whose hipster cred and provocative reputation are both his blessing and his bane. Amidst all the simultaneously repellant and hypnotic images of humping trash cans, destroying baby dolls, and eating pancakes covered with dish soap lies a deeper meaning. Maybe. Maybe Trash Humpers is a statement on the destructive nature of American society, our tendency to waste pretty much everything, the white trash Southern Gothic, and the decaying wasteland of suburban heartland America. Then again, maybe it’s just a piece of trash.

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