Peter Eramo’s Film Review of the Terrible “Trash Humpers”

There are those movies that I think are just bad – but can at least see how others may enjoy and even appreciate them. Then there are those movies that are just plain awful – and the majority who claim to appreciate the filmmaking and absolutely love the film are simply lavishing their pretentious airs about, wanting to be different and one of the few to proclaim, “I get it.” Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers is a perfect example of such a catastrophic film. Despite what J. Hoberman (Village Voice) and other “artsy” critics might have you believe, this is one hopeless, boring, and futile project disguised as cinema vérité, but in reality is just plain crap.

Abstaining from any narrative structure at all, Korine, the self-proclaimed “mistakist artist,” gives us a small band of older troublemakers who run about their trailer trash towns creating all kinds of havoc. The painfully long 78-minute film (shot on video) has the look of a worn out VHS home video, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But what we are given are snippets of random, silly acts with no form or logic attached, that plays like disappointing freak show. We watch the costumed characters ride bikes with baby dolls attached to them, destroy TV’s and other gadgets in abandoned lots, drink plenty and, most of all, dry-hump trash bins with reckless abandon anywhere they can find. There is a scene where “Momma” (Rachel Korine) gives delightful advice to a young boy on how to properly insert a razor blade into an apple to offer to a friend; another where a chunky hooker in a thong is fondling one of the guy’s junk while singing “Silent Night.” On top of this is the incessant laughing/shrieking that manages to hit the bottom of your spine and make its way up to your throbbing head, as it grates on your very last nerve. And on and on the stupidity goes.

Korine has said that growing up in Nashville, he would see trash cans strewn about and an elderly group of boogeymen would come out at night, camouflage themselves with bushes, get covered in dirt and peep through other people’s windows. This, my friends, was the mighty inspiration for this poor excuse of a film. To give off the look of spontaneity, Korine cut the film on two VCR’s and shooting is said to have taken two weeks. No script was attached, but rather, just a collection of ideas. Perhaps they (and in turn, we) would have been better off with some semblance of a script.

Remember, Korine was one of the writers behind the fascinating and brilliant 1995 film Kids and has since succeeded in alienating his audience by making movies with the sole intention of making us feel uneasy. David Lynch does it well. Werner Herzog does it well. Lars von Trier also succeeds more often than not. Korine is none of these masters. Unlike some of his previous work that can be viewed (at least by a few) as thought-provoking, challenging or downright disturbing, Trash Humpers is a tedious mess with nothing at all to say.

Year:       2010
Director:  Harmony Korine


7 Responses to Peter Eramo’s Film Review of the Terrible “Trash Humpers”

  1. Sarah says:

    I don’t think I fit into the category of “artsy” but I enjoyed this film. I think some of those critical of the film, such as yourself, are overthinking the positive reaction it’s seen from some quarters. You say in the first paragraph that it’s people with “pretentious airs” wanting to say they “get it” but I think really those people in favour of the film find it in many ways just as you describe – random and silly – and nothing more but still in the end they find it entertaining, I’d say it’s a simple that. I really don’t think there’s many people out there thinking there’s something to “get” in this film or that there’s some great meaning there, it doesn’t take thoughts like that to enjoy the film.

    I’m not criticising you for not liking the film – I think it’s a perfectly understandable reaction and to be expected – but I just wanted to correct your thoughts on how other people could say they liked it, I think you’re being quite simple-minded there.

    • Thank you for the very thoughtful comment. I think when I said people who like this are pretentious or “artsy” I was focusing on a few critics who feel the need to be different from others, like J. Hoberman. I am glad you enjoyed it — and I appreciate your explanation. Perhaps it is meant to be nothing except some random and silly scenes put together, but then I must ask…what is that telling fans of his — or what is it telling people who pay to see this? The bottom line is everyone’s opinion is different and I am sure there are many who love this film and many who hate it — just like every film ever made. And I was maybe a bit harsh in my opening paragraph….but I thank you for your understanding.

  2. Richard says:

    Jeez. Thanks for the warning, Peter. I’ll definitely give this crappy looking mess a miss. At least the review was entertaining. 😉

  3. CMrok93 says:

    I can’t stand Harmony Korine films sometimes. In all honesty I get what he’s trying to do, by showing us what we don’t want to see, but it almost becomes a gimmick anymore. Give me a movie with an interesting story, and some of your gross-out stuff, but at least make it compelling, just not stupid!

    • Nice comment. I agree, I don’t know what Korine wants to make of his “legacy” as a filmmaker. I like how you say he tries to show us what we don’t want to see. But sometimes there is no rhyme or reason and this is a good case in point.

  4. Aiden R. says:

    I’m sure you’re right, I’m sure this is awful, but after seeing the poster and cracking up at the title, I have to see this. Will report back, but at least I know what I’m getting into. Strange stuff, man.

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