DVD Releases: ‘Trash Humpers’

The first thought that will undoubted spring to your mind when you begin watching US indie director Harmony Korine’s latest oddity Trash Humpers (2009) is,”OK, this is weird”. The more you watch though, the more you realise that “weird” is an absolute understatement.

With not much of an introduction, we see a bizarre group of figures – apparently elderly, mentally unstable asylum escapees – humping rubbish bins, just as the film’s title suggests. And while you’re still scratching your head and wondering just why the film’s protagonists are doing what they’re doing, the amorous OAPs go on to destroy TVs and radios, spray wheelchairs, play with creepy dolls and hump some more, all the while uttering unintelligible noises which sound at times like mad laughter, and at others like moans and whines.

The whole film is a collage of short videos which show what you’ll soon realise is a group of not-so-right-in-the-head sociopaths busying themselves with the most mindless, crazy activities (a la Lars von Trier’s The Idiots [1998]), all set against the eerie backdrop of the desolate Tennessee countryside. The short videos are shot and put together to look like footage of true events, and has been doctored  to look ruined, broken and sometimes unclear, as if found on old, abandoned VHS tape.

The activities the protagonists get up to range from the crazy and mindless to the downright twisted – at one point, an old lady is shown teaching a kid how to insert a razor into an apple, that will then be ingested. In addition, if all the humping bins and performing oral sex on plants weren’t enough, we’re be treated to an unconventional way of eating pancakes. But will you find yourself interested in finding out what exactly is the point of all this craziness? Yes, because there is a point…

Trash Humpers is unusual, controversial and also truly insane. Enveloped in a sinister atmosphere constructed from surreal silences, weird noises and naked and depressing surroundings, maverick director Harmony Korine is brave enough to let his actors loose in front of the camera, showing his audience what could happen if we lost all of our civility, humanity and perspective in life. His dark satire is a wild and memorable journey into just what loneliness and social exclusion can do to the human mind, and is both wonderfully confusing and surprisingly engaging, as long as you go into the film with an open and unprejudiced mind. 

Margherita Pellegrino