There’s a reason why the film Spring Breakers managed to make independent history last weekend. Playing in only three theaters between New York and Los Angeles, Harmony Korine’s spring break gone wild film took in $270, 000, exceeding market expectations.
While many point to the fact that the prospect of watching four scantily clad 20-something girls acting naughty, two of which are grounded in Disney kiddy fare, is enticing, we’re willing to bet it will soon have more to do with the visceral, jaw dropping, experience Korine has brought to this gritty art house film captured in mainstream glitz.
At first glance the film shouldn’t work. With a thin plot, and two interchangeable performances by Benson and Hudgens, and barely there dialogue, this should not be a film. However, the hypnotic factor and the simultaneous thrill and terror of watching these girls spiral out of control, pulls together what might be a cult classic.
Spring Breakers follows four college age girls Brit (Ashley Benson), Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), and Cotty (Rachel Korine) desperate to break ties from their crappy reality of school, their parents, and rules. The four travel to St. Petersburg, Florida to make memories, but wind up in jail and later bailed out by a rapper (James Franco). From there the spring break of a lifetime continues to spiral out of control.
Unlike the usual Hangover hi-jinks Korine frames his best visual masterpiece yet, by capturing something truly refreshing, while exposing the viewer to an in your face journey of naked writhing bodies, booming repetitive beats, red cups, and drugs, in a way that leaves the mind numb to anything outside of his neon-lit scope. Unable to escape the erratic behavior and hypnotic cinematography it’s captured in, as the film marches on, the question of “Is this still happening?” swirls on a loop.
Obviously Spring Breakers isn’t a film for everyone. It’s offensive, insane, chaotic, and looks more like an acid trip-inspired rap video than an actual film, but for those that want to explore a world that is far from ordinary, it may just be your cup of tea.
Here’s 10 extremely spoiler-y things to consider before seeing Spring Breakers:
1. The girls love penis, like a lot.
One of the first scenes features Vanessa Hudgens holding up a large doodle of a penis containing the words “I want penis.” Uh-Oh. From the get-go the film is declaring that this is certainly not a film for her High School Musical fans. Hudgens out of the four girls is truly the most manic of the group. There’s no rhyme or reason for why she’s obsessed with guns either, but her two fingers are constantly raised in the air popping off fake bangs. She wants in on this circus the most.
2. There’s nudity, a lot of it.
We’ve all seen the late night advertisements for Girls Gone Wild, where the girls teasingly give the viewer a show. Well, in Spring Breakers there’s absolutely no tease. Shirts and bras are off from when the girls arrive to their spring break destination. In fact, we’ll bet that if you cut all of the footage together there’s about 20 minutes of uncensored nudity to salvage.
3. James Franco is insanely committed, and hilariously insane.
Unlike the vitriol that has been spewed over Franco’s role in Oz: The Great And Powerful, here we see Franco in one of his best performances. A true character actor, the grill wearing, cornrow-rocking Franco plays Alien (real name Al, folks). What’s so frightening about this role besides his appearance, is the actor’s incredible commitment to the role. Played differently, this could have been just another weed toking humorous gag role. It’s down right disturbing just how far Franco takes this role, at times flipping from a jovial look to a sinister hardened stare, it makes him by far the most hypnotic and often humorous person to watch on screen.
4. The girls wear pink ski masks.
At one point the girls wear pink ski masks donned with unicorns while twirling around; they’re also holding AK-47s. This isn’t some weird hyperbole, this actually happened in the film, and it was wonderful.
5. Skrillex scores what could be considered an hour and a half music video.
The talented Skrillex produces the music and fills in most of the peppered dialogue that’s echoes in his beats throughout the whole score. Throughout the film the music seems to have a conversation with its characters, because they certainly aren’t having in-depth conversations with each other. A piece of dialogue is said, and is spit back out in a repetitive way as the beats play on, and on, and on. The music, which orbits around the characters, for most of the film’s run paints an immersive music video instead of a film, but we’re not complaining.
6. Britney Spears’ music plays a secondary character.
Playing on the theme of lost innocence and sexualization of youth it would only make sense that the music of Britney Spears would be featured in Spring Breakers — right? Right. Highlighted in one of the best scenes in the film, Franco’s Alien plays a white grand piano that is outside of his home, and serenades the girls to Britney Spears’ “Everytime.” By the time this scene shows up on the film, a viewer might want to throw their hands up in exhaustion over trying to figure out what’s next.
7. Franco’s “look at my sh-t scene.”
When Franco hones in on a performance, he creates some of the most lovable and quotable characters (see: Saul Silver from Pineapple Express). Here Alien is extremely quotable too. A good hearted true G, in one scene Alien boasts about the “lavish” lifestyle he’s living in his pad, which oddly enough resembles WuTang’s Redman’s apartment from MTV’s Cribs. Enthusiastically Alien says the most hilarious stereotypical things any thug would utter. With lines like “look at my sheeeiiit,” and “I’ve got Scarface playing in a loop” it’s hard not to laugh. Also another highlight is Alien’s obnoxious “SPRANG BREEAK.” We’re confident that half of the theater will walk out saying that new catchphrase complete with Franco’s southern inflection.
8. Selena Gomez’s performance.
Selena Gomez’s Faith is the most developed character, aside from Alien. Gomez has a lot of layers to play around with as she embodies a girl who wants to escape church camp, but isn’t entirely ready to push the envelope to pure insanity like her crazy friends. Gomez really shows up for the film, and is surprisingly believable as the conflicted girl trapped in a spring break vacation gone wrong. She has a long way to go in shedding her Disney image, but she’s definitely on her way.
9. A tense encounter between Alien and Faith.
What we’re now learning was a last minute improvised moment before Korine decided to roll, Faith and Alien get into an uncomfortable confrontation. Faith is scared. Alien’s G friends are touching her. She has no idea why Alien bailed them out of jail, and she’s just weirded out by the whole affair. Alien confronts her in a way that reads both seductive and invasive, as he softly whispers disturbing nothings to the frightened Faith. The scene is possibly the only one that resembles a “normal” conversation, and it’s terrifying.
10. A very vivid, uncomfortable, threesome in a hot tub happens.
A threesome takes place between Alien, Brit, and Candy in a hot tub. The press has since highlighted this scene as it’s probably the raunchiest out of the bunch, and that’s saying a lot. Perhaps from actions that precede this moment, it’s incredibly uncomfortable to watch, as Alien sandwiches himself in between the two more-than-willing girls.
After it ends viewers may find themselves fleeing the theater or glued to their seat after the credits roll. If anything is certain it’s that nothing feels normal after experiencing Spring Breakers. If you’re brave enough, we implore you to go down this wild rabbit hole with the four girls, and a striking performance by Franco. If not, you may want to stay home.
Spring Breakers hits theaters Friday, March 22.