The new indie film Trash Humpers observes the lives of three fictional cretin-like outcasts who lead filthy and disgusting lives on the margins of society—lives that include, yes, sex with garbage. Is there any redeeming artistic value in this? I doubt I’ll find out, because I probably won’t go see it. (I have other plans.) But the film certainly is already doing what it apparently intended to do: generating heated discussion. In film magazines and blogs, writers are grappling with the unsettling questions that Trash Humpers raises.
Over at IndieWire, Eric Kohn writes that filmmaker Harmony Korine “challenges viewers (those willing to sit through the whole thing, anyway) to deny the movie’s mesmerizing appeal. … Only those compelled by the allure of attempting to comprehend its vulgar tongue-in-cheek appeal will access the fascinating madness beneath its juvenile surface.”
At Cinema Scope, Dennis Lim, in describing the the film’s ultra lo-fi look, proclaims, “Trash Humpers is a proudly cruddy-looking film by an aesthete who understands the power and utility of ugliness.” (Case in point: I was moved to learn about the film after being drawn in by the grotesquely engaging cover of Cinema Scope’s Fall issue.)
And at Variety, frequent Utne Reader contributor Rob Nelson writes, “The result, riveting beyond all rationality, is something like Jackass, except that here the stunts are dangerous only to standards of good taste—which, of course, is precisely the point.”