Life is Great. Without it, You’d be Dead

Mary Streepy

Chris Shields, Head Editor

Boasting a whopping 35% on Rotten Tomatoes and earning a much needed R rating, Harmony Korine’s 1997 cult indie film Gummo will leave viewers speechless. Whether you’re a normal, sane individual, or a fan of bizarre and unsettling cinema like myself, this film will undoubtedly confuse, bewilder, and disturb you. 

While Korine’s other films have a somewhat similar underlying eerieness in their tone, nothing compares to the nature of this release. He has directed films including Kids, The Beach Bum, and Spring Breakers. What inspired Harmony Korine to produce such a life changing, gut wrenching, intoxicating, bizarre film like Gummo out of the blue is beyond me.

I wish I could sit here and explain to you a basic outline of the plot, but I can’t, because there really isn’t one. At the start of the film, there’s a snippet of dialogue explaining that the tiny little Ohio town where the story takes place was recently ravaged by a vicious, devastating tornado that left the community in ruins. Animals and people were killed and structures were destroyed resulting in an almost post-apocalyptic scenario. The story roughly, and I mean roughly, follows two young boys by the names of Tummler and Solomon who ride their bicycles through the town with shotguns, killing stray cats for profit. Many tiny subplots also occur during the course of this movie, but they aren’t as important and are even more difficult to follow.

Gummo has a much-warranted R rating because of its foul language, graphic imagery, and adult situations. Scenes that fall into these categories include nude scenes, animal cruelty, and underage drug use. 

Simply put, Gummo is not your grandmother’s indie film. It’s deeply unnerving, wildly disturbing, and disgustingly perverted; however, it’s a genius work by Harmony Korine that I would definitely recommend if you’re brave enough. If you’re looking for something to make your skin crawl and something to keep you up for nights on end, it’s definitely the film for you.  Critics hated it for its absurdity, fans loved it for its creativity, but if there ever was a controversial film by today’s standards, Gummo is it.

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