There’s your punk right there.

I have to admit I’m still a sucker when it comes to punks in films. Like many, I hold Return of the Living Dead very near to my heart, and I saw it shortly after it originally came out. Which was too early for me to have embraced the subculture yet, I think. Maybe at that age I just appreciated the countercultural look of these guys.  And Trash was easily one of my first screen crushes.

So here we have Chelsea (pink-haired Chloe Levine) and her friends (Garth, Jerk, and Abe), perfectly introduced to us as they’re partying it up at a punk show. There’s drugs galore being snorted, big bags of it being sake kept in Chelsea’s backpack. Soon enough, the cops show up. Through the chaos, Garth (Granit Lahu, ostensibly the leader and Chelsea’s boyfriend)stabs one of the cops. The quartet is now on the run, but where to hide out?  Turns out Chelsea knows a place out of the city. A cabin in the woods she lived in with her late uncle (Larry Fessenden) when she was a kid. Off they go, bringing along another one of their friends (blue-haired Amanda Grace Benitez).

Our ”heroes”.

We know from the opening scene that there is something dark that happened to Chelsea when she was a kid, and whatever happened was shared by a park ranger (Jeremy Holm). Her going back to the cabin seems to be triggering ghosts from her past. Sure enough, on the way there they bump into said Ranger, who at first doesn’t recognize the now-grown Chelsea but unsurprisingly, what with him being an authority figure, there’s already bad blood between he and the punks. As it turns out though, the ranger is batshit insane. Thus begins the hunt, and the truth behind Chelsea’s past.

Punks in film have a history of often being used as villains. And when they’re not, they’re often more anti-heroes than the more wholesome protagonists that are the norm. Even in the seminal punk classic Suburbia they are not shown in any kind of forced positive light (just look at the club scene near the beginning of the film, with its brutal public assault on a girl in public). Our gang here is not sugar-coated either. Chelsea remains the more level-headed of the bunch, though the film wisely keeps the mystery of what exactly happened to her until late in the film, making this more than a stalk-and-kill/survivalist romp.

It becomes evident once the action starts that things are not meant to be taken that seriously. Though the set-up is played straight, as is Chloe Levine’s performance which constantly hints at an uncomfortable inner struggle, the ranger himself is so over-the-top that the tone becomes one of almost-campy fun as opposed to anything resembling suspense or horror. Even when faced with the most stressful, life-or-death situations, some of the decisions and reactions that the characters make can’t help but be met with laughter. This is compounded, once again, by Jeremy Holm’s delivery. His performance is actually great. His quieter, early moments are actually subtly unnerving, but when he goes full-throttle psycho, all real-life subtleties are gone.


The characters are well-defined and engaging even if not always likeable, and the performances perfect. Chloe Levine is excellent in the lead.  I was annoyed at a few instances in which things happened too predictably or unimaginatively, which tends to happen when you’ve seen so many genre movies; though it’s obvious that the filmmakers know the genre well, so it always bugs me and takes me out of the action when instances happen and I think to myself ‘’they really should have known better’’.

There is no pretense here about this being anything other than a visceral, bloody fun ride. And if you like your punk rock, you will be served.

 

 

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