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Trash Humpers.

December 22, 2010

Never before has a title of a film been so aptly named and never before have I seen a film so inane. Trash Humpers is an intriguing mess that slightly captivates viewers while also being a complete waste of film and insult to cinema depending on your outlook. It’s a different breed of cat entirely yet defines what independent cinema is all about: someone who raised their own money to tell their own story and found their own ways to distribute it. Director Harmony Korine is without a doubt one of the most controversial directors working today and while his films are hit or miss he is unquestionably the most original.

Trash Humpers is exactly what the title implies. The entire film plays out like a found video tape and on that tape are the recordings of a group of possibly mentally unbalanced people acting out their fetishes. They hump trash, they destroy electronics, they role play, they have asinine conversations, and they hump more trash. It’s unsettling and strange to watch yet is slightly intriguing until about 30 minutes pass. The film only makes it to the 78 minute mark but you can turn it off after only 20 and still come out “getting it” and understanding its methods.

Korine is without a doubt a man of his own accord. Having first been introduced to Korine when my 16-year-old self discovered the art of cinema and watched Larry Clarke’s 1995 teen drama Kids, I immediately fell for him as a writer. His script and Clarke’s capturing of a group of 1990s teenage degenerate skate punks in New York City and the ridiculously adult lives they lived had a lasting effect on me and still haunts me to this day. I then stumbled upon Gummo, a non-linear film following a group of poor Ohio residents who shoot cats for fun and fight with chairs out of boredom. Initially I was disgusted at the incoherent pile of manure that had been made yet felt a desperate need to know Korine’s intention for making the garbage that took place before my eyes. His explanation was simple: “As far as putting something in order, that’s just something that’s been done for the past 100 years and has been accepted and I’m just not interested” and to this day Gummo is among my favorite films.

Yet Trash Humpers doesn’t have the same affect. It’s interesting to say the least as Korine’s attention to detail in creating the off kilter 1990s VHS look is perfected, yet it’s the uninteresting characters we watch on top of a non-existent story that makes Trash Humpers worthless. There are no faces or names to know who we are following on the tapes, just a group of young kids who dress as old people and videotape themselves humping trash and running amuck. Their practices are disturbing and it ran chills through my body at times to comprehend that there are people out there who get off to doing what these people do. They’re not funny or captivating, instead they’re annoying, loud and illiberally vulgar. It’s understandable that Trash Humpers may have the “train wreck effect,” you can’t help but watch what’s taking place before you, however, as a bit of time passes you stop caring and just want to look away.

Trash Humpers isn’t intelligent and there’s nothing about it to get or understand. It’s actually one of those films that if someone told me they liked it I’d immediately scoff and think they are an asshole or just pretentious but I do understand that a small fraction of viewers will enjoy this movie. Judging in value, Trash Humpers is “good” because of how well it captures its aesthetic look but there’s no story and it’s a film that makes you question how or why it got made. It almost upset me a bit as I questioned how such a pointless film was made and the hundreds of good pieces of art floating around aren’t.


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  1. V/H/S « The Cinephiliac

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