Trash Humpers

January 01, 1970

BY JONAH FLICKER

 

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.

 

 

Go to IMDB.com for more details – don’t
forget to check the comments section (“worthless, punishing swill”) at
the
bottom, as they seem to confirm our reviewer’s worst fears.

 

 

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