is a film that delivers on its title. If you are looking for a movie that involves people humping trash, here is your new god. If you're looking for something driven by things like, say, plot or characters, you might want to avoid this one. The film is directed by Harmony Korine
, and chances are that if you know who that is, you already know whether you'll want to spend your time and money on this.
For those not familiar with Korine, he's made his mark on modern cinema with his previous films, Gummo
, Julien Donkey-Boy
, and Mister Lonely
. While he didn't direct it, Korine also wrote Larry Clark
's controversial Kids
. His pictures seem to delight in confounding the usual standards and conventions of film, and often with it, his audiences. He's very much of the Dogme 95
school, and his films are often more a collection of bizarre
, and sometimes revolting
scenes starring non-actors than they are stories. If you click those links, you'll see what I'm talking about. It's a sort of visual poetry, or maybe more appropriately haiku. In short, his shit's really weird, ok? Trash Humpers
was shot on a VHS camcorder and edited using two VCRs. The viewing I saw showed it on a 35mm projection, which is pretty hilarious. Despite it being completely fictional, the film won the main prize at the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival
The story follows a group of three ultra creepy hooligans (it's left for you to decide if the characters are actually supposed to be elderly, or just young people in frighteningly realistic makeup) vandalizing, destroying, and, yes, humping everything in and about Nashville, TN.
The masks never stop being creepy throughout.
Things you will see the main characters do in this movie:
- Humping dumpsters, trash cans, lamp posts, mailboxes, and trees.
- Smashing televisions and flourescent lights.
- Tap dancing.
- Dragging dolls behind a bicycle.
- Jacking off tree branches and fellating leaves.
- Singing creepy songs, cackling, grunting, and repeating nonsense phrases ad nauseum.
- Murdering people.
- Sleeping in the middle of parking lots and under bridges.
- Pushing each other around in wheelchairs.
- Being rubbed by nude, obese ladies as they sing Christmas carols.
The trash humpers don't have much in the way of actual dialogue amongst themselves, besides one notable scene near the end, where Korine's character, also the cameraman, expounds upon how sad all the normal people's lives are compared to theirs. The parts where the film really shines aren't centered around the bizarro antics of these three, but rather in the scenes featuring their friends. It's in these that Korine shows there is some real method to his madness; they transform the picture from a random montage of events into a bigger portrait of the world in which it is set.
One such scene involves two men in hospital johnnies (bare-assed of course), joined at the head by pantyhose. They've made pancakes for the trash humpers, but they don't want to eat them. So they make the siamese twins (for lack of a better term) squeeze dish soap over the pancakes like syrup and eat them. Then one of the twins gives an absurd speech, very dramatically, about the benefits mankind would find to not having heads. "Everyone would be 8 to 12 pounds lighter! Chest hair would replace beards! Sweaters would fit like a glove!"
Another scene involves an adolescent fat kid in a suit shooting hoops and hammering a doll in the face, laughing maniacally. Another has an awkward, middle aged man showing them his ridiculous daily exercises. Possibly the most humorous scene of the whole movie involves a shirtless, bald man in a neck brace telling homophobic jokes.They're not even really jokes, more just unfunny punchlines blurted out. They're terrible, but his delivery is so perfect in how he's trying (and failing) to be offensive and funny.
Korine's films always manage to somehow sneak in beautiful moments amongst the insanity. One of these is found on a footbridge, as a white haired, goateed old man in a french maid's dress recites a strangely moving poem about humanity's place in the world while the trash humpers shoot off fireworks. There are these night time shots of the main characters humping a lamp post, and they actually look quite striking, especially given the context and the medium in which it was shot. Another great scene occurs when the female trash humper is lovingly holding a real baby, and walking it around the neighborhood in a stroller.
That said, this is mainly a movie involving creepy looking people humping things, breaking things, and killing things. The killing sort of surprised me, and is revealed first by just showing a dead naked body in the woods, keeping in mind this is shot by one of the trash humpers. Then we see the aftermath of one of the murders, blood all over the floor next to the body, and the humpers seeming sort of fazed by it. Then there's an actual scene where they are suffocating a mostly nude man with a plastic bag over his head while one of their friends plays a weird guitar solo in the background. This violence is treated the same way as the smashing of TVs and light bulbs shown throughout. It's just another destructive event in the lives of these people, and they don't really treat it as much more than their other daily activities. Korine has admitted
that he wants to provoke people with his films, and Trash Humpers
is indeed a provocative one. Depending on your sensibilities, you could find this film either hilarious and entertaining, or pointless and disgusting. The style and aesthetics of it can be a big turn-off as well. I've always found Korine's style of filmmaking a bit ironic, in that he seems to so strongly want to avoid all typical conventions, that he's only locked himself into the convention of being unconventional. The VHS media and the lack of narrative can come off as superficial stylistic choices, especially if you're not familiar with his other work.
I personally enjoy films that are out of the ordinary and I was seriously entertained for the full length of Trash Humpers
. I laughed out loud as many times as I cringed. It's a bizarre ride, and I had a fun time with it. In the lexicon of Korine's films, it is the lesser of Gummo
, Julien Donkey-Boy
, and Mister Lonely
. It is a good addition to his repertoire, for sure, but it doesn't surpass any of his previous works. Maybe it would have if it had a scene to rival Mister Lonely
's where a crazed Abraham Lincoln spins a basketball while reciting the Gettysburg Address over a hip hop score and a strobe light