When the Turing test is a thing of the past and computers watch over and judge our every move – killing those whose existences seem futile, or without motivation – and technology is so advanced and sophisticated that we humans will no longer work, or think, or even move, even then would it be impossible for a computer to understand what makes Trash Humpers so compulsively, perversely watchable? This ‘film’ – it’s not a film, but traditional terminology is so hopelessly limited that the hand is forced when describing it – exists with its own self-made myth. These people, whose existence nobody understands, or knew about, and in fact don’t exist outside the beautifully fetid mind of Harmony Korine, are rendered going about their daily activities (mostly humping anything of vaguely human proportions, but also performing vaguely sexual acts with other objects as well) with absolute abandon. The characters are obviously fictional, shown as they are with very fake looking masks and exaggerated voices, but this does nothing to shake the instinctive terror that these characters create. These are the bogeymen, and they are in our alleyways and streets at night, doing unspeakable things to our wheelie bins and pot plants.
The original distribution concept for Trash Humpers was as unconventional as the content of the film. Korine toyed with the idea of leaving the film on a VHS cassette on pavements, roads, around towns, etc., to enhance the idea of the film being a so-called ‘found item’. The film takes the found footage genre to new levels of depravity, in a more disturbing than sexual way.
Not only is this film a fresh and wholly original take on the found footage genre, but it’s also a slapstick comedy movie and seems to be a new interpretation of the ghost movie genre – these masked, mysterious, tortured figures haunt our every pathway, scaring us inside our houses. It’s an incredibly modern film that works so well because it’s both experimental and extremely traditional – experimental in its lack of cogent narrative and style (spliced video tape, edited between two VHS recorders) and traditional in the familial interaction between the characters, conforming to traditional comedy teams (The Marx Brothers, The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy) and the aforementioned update of the ghost film idea.
The very idea that this group is in the car park or the street outside your house, smashing and shouting and humping things, for absolutely no reason other than total sociopathy, is truly horrifying in a way that could never be explained to a computer. This film demands to be seen, and needs to be seen to be believed. It’s a welcome return to form for Harmony Korine, after his previous flop Mister Lonely.