It’s fascinating what Trash Humpers does to you. It’s almost plotless, just a crap VHS camera following three aged delinquents on a trail of random destruction and stupidity. They also dry hump rubbish and perform fellatio on branches. It’s totally exploitative, highly manipulative and very very wrong. Yet if it was only kids bashing dolls with hammers or old people drinking wine and destroying TV’s then it would get tired very quickly. Director and actor Harmony Korine (KIds/Gummo) has his faults, his unquenchable desire to shock, his precocious artiness and willingness to exploit his subjects for his own amusement, yet it’s precisely these qualities that make this film so great. And he also imbues Trash Humpers with a certain unexpected gravitas, where in spite of the ridiculousness of its premise, the acts of stupidity take on an almost hypnotic quality, and strangely enough it becomes quite touching.
It’s the worst looking film you’ve ever seen. Things you’ve recorded off your phone look better. It’s definitely a sign of our times, it’s jackass made by people without any conceivable talents, an exercise in seedy suburban wrongness, where Korine picks out some neighbourhood randoms to visit. So we get racist homophobic rednecks, randoms with extra long toenails, nonsensical monologues in maid outfits, firecrackers and whenever Korine runs out of ideas someone roots some rubbish. There’s no music, just the singing over and over by camera operator (Korine in old persons makeup), bastardised folk songs where the humour comes from the oppressive repetition. Much like the rest of the film.
It’s an annoying, painful and difficult film to watch, but it’s also incredibly bold in its refusal to comply with cinemas expectations. Korine is a singular voice; it’s probably the funniest film you will ever see, though to be fair, it’s humour borne from pain. Your pain, because ultimately it’s difficult to shake the notion that it’s not his subject, but the viewer that is the butt of Korine’s joke.
Bob Baker Fish