Friday, October 18, 2019

Trash Humpers (2009)

Nobody really cares about boring films released decades ago. Certain films of the 20th century pride themselves in being different and detached from the nucleus of the Hollywood market, for all the self-congratulatory puff independent thought is worth.

In contrast, Trash Humpers is a relatively recent and poignant contribution to the postmodernist genre. Unlike the typical output of “mainstream” outsider filmmakers, Korine held nothing back in delivering a spectacular mess of a film that knows what it is and speaks to its core audience. This one is good because it’s exactly what it says on the tin.

Were you expecting a screenshot or perhaps a little GIF animation here? Forget it. This film isn’t about visuals, it’s about the feeling.

“Make it, make it, don’t fake it,” raps a wise senior citizen zombie. “Get it, get it, get it,” chants another in a different scene. This is just a taste of the rhythmic stylings of Trash Humpers. Don’t worry, it’s not a musical.

Everything about Harmony Korine’s 2009 opus, from the VHS cinematography to a racist hick wearing a neck brace (((for some reason))) is on point. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll spot the apparent imperfections for what they are: masterfully interwoven symbolism. You see, Trash Humpers is a film about films and what really entertains us.

The story goes like this: Some old people in monster masks (who look suspiciously like the aliens in Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste) have a romantic time with waste management containers when they’re not either listening to Nashville locals tell stories or killing said storytellers. It’s mesmerizing to watch these lovable monsters nod and contribute to conversations in their uniquely inhuman way. Grunts, growls, infantile chants; they say and do whatever the fuck they want.

Harmony Korine is a skater dude who never grew up and only caved in to Hollywood demands when the money got tempting enough. Trash Humpers was the last non-mainstream film he directed, following Gummo (1997) and Julien Donkey-Boy (1999). Unlike that pretentious fuck Richard Linklater, Korine really did make weird shit back in the day. Was Trash Humpers calculated? Only as far as timing its production to get screened at some annual festivals where it took home all the awards.

Trash Humpers pushed the boundaries of the cinematic medium before everyone was doing it on YouTube. Fresh, ahead of its time, and zestier than whatever constitutes the average Nashville resident’s diet, it is, in short, brilliant.

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