He’s still going where few American filmmakers dare: right into America’s hedonistic heart of darkness. “Spring Breakers” is the horror movie glimpsed behind “Superbad” and “21 and Over” and all those other celebrations of the right to party yourself into a coma. The movie says that if this is what your culture sells you, these are the kids you’ll end up with.
Yet it’s anything but a lecture, or even a cautionary tale, and it stands to infuriate parents and other moral guardians as much as it discombobulates their children. Korine loves his pretty little animals the way a renegade zoologist loves the lemmings he studies as they mate and chew pieces off each other and eventually jump straight off the cliff.
At a certain point, after Alien has entered into a street war with a rival gangbanger (rapper Gucci Mane) and before Brit and Candy don pink, unicorn-emblazoned ski masks and pick up assault rifles, the film spirals off the page into possible fantasy. Is any of this really happening? Or is it all a college girl’s daydream as she sits doodling in a lecture hall?
Neither, or both — it doesn’t really matter, not when Korine is having Alien and the girls sing Britney Spears’s “Everytime” (to them it’s an oldie) at an outdoor grand piano before engaging in a swimming pool orgy that feels surreal to the point of anatomical impossibility. There’s much more (and less) than Tarantino-style cleverness going on here; Korine delivers a teenage apocalypse that’s shocking and stupid and exhilarating and tender in equal measure. “Spring Breakers” fuses our worst nightmares and most reckless dreams of freedom until the two become indistinguishable.
Ty Burr can be reached at email@example.com.