Underground cinema imp Harmony Korine’s latest freaky dispatch from America’s rancid subculture is “Trash Humpers,” a gnarly bleat about a tightly knit gang of elderly street denizens, whose recorded antics — vandalism, peeping, dragging baby dolls around on bikes and, yes, violating garbage bins — are presented as a “found” videotaped artifact of secret misfithood. (The cast is Korine and company in extra-wrinkly old-age makeup.)
Stripped of the forced sentimentality that jarred as much as the outré imagery did in his previous films (which include “Gummo” and “Julien Donkey-Boy”), Korine works in an almost blissfully weird utopia of marginalized naughtiness here, and more craftily distills his willful transgressiveness into something strange and watchable. While the results were probably never designed to win over his detractors, “Trash Humpers” is almost a perverted love letter to fans of his brand of unstable, fringe-y terror. The crass, fuzzy beauty of VHS’ defiantly crisp-free recording technology gives haunting visual power to both the empty-parking-lot dreariness of day and the harsh, lamplit hum of night.
The result is a dubious classic of sorts, part avant-garde nightmare, part anti-nature documentary, and part satire of our YouTube-era voyeurism toward the unnerving looniness of others.