Trash Humpers

Trash Humpers


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Trash Humper, n., a person who performs sexual acts with trash. Or violent acts, it seems. And then films it. One would expect the next step in the process to be putting it on YouTube - indeed, there are thousands of such films out there. So it's not at all clear why Harmony Korine has decided to fictionalise the process and make it into a feature for the cinema. The words postmodern and ironic have been subject to a lot of abuse over the past decade, but nothing so cruel as this.

Let me provide some context. I see a lot of bad films, but it's not often that, on leaving the cinema, I receive unsolicited apologies from two members of staff, one of whom tells me that she threw up when she saw it (due to the shaky hand-held camera work). Fellow critics bandy about words like 'different' and 'interesting', trying to be polite. To be fair, it is billed as horror, but its violent content isn't really a big deal - most of the time we can't tell whether we're supposed to take it seriously or not anyway, and it's impossible to care about the parodic two dimensional characters. The horror is that a once promising young director's career should have come to this.

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At this point Korine fans are probably concluding that I've simply missed the point. Others among you may thing all this outrage makes it sound exciting. Don't fool yourselves. Yes, Korine intended to make something deliberately trashy that would show aspects of the modern world as they really are, but that's hardly a stunning new idea, and nothing is achieved by this that couldn't have been done just as well in a short. He claims to be standing up for his outcast heroes, and there are shades of Pink Flamingos here, but without the compelling characters, the performances, the wit, or even the self-awareness. A rambling speech about how one character pities those who live in suburban houses and go to work every day parodies certain recent indie movies neatly but has nothing of its own to contribute. This is like watching The Idiots filmed in the first person, except that there really is no more depth to what's going on, absolutely nothing below the surface.

Without context, this film would be nothing more than the genuine films-by-crazy-people which it witlessly apes. It's hard to see how it contributes anything to the historical record that they haven't done already. I do know people who will probably enjoy it when pilled off their faces, but it's hard to imagine a sober person sitting through the full 78 minutes. Yet Trash Humpers does perhaps do something useful. In presenting us with the sort of characters who inhabit the fringes of David Lynch films, the ones too far gone to have anything to contribute to the narrative, it demystifies madness. It shows us directly that this subject long glamorised by cinema isn't in fact sexy or daring or in some perverse way sophisticated. Up close and personal, madness, like this film, is just miserable and unrelentingly tedious.

Reviewed on: 12 Jul 2010
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A group of elderly people film themselves fornicating with the debris of society.
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Read more Trash Humpers reviews:

David Graham *****

Director: Harmony Korine

Writer: Harmony Korine

Starring: Rachel Korine, Harmony Korine, Brian Kotzur, Travis Nicholson, Charles Ezell

Year: 2009

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: US, UK

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