I love a thick coat of stylistically applied grime on any film with criminal intentions, and Spring Breakers offers up a level of color saturated loathsomeness that gives Tony Scott's spastic Domino a run for its methed-up money. Korine has gifted us a piece of grade-A trash auteurism that commits to its highly stylized, fuck-up-your-evening without compromise. Spring Breakers is pure id. The plot is thin, and the film devotes itself to music video style cross-cuts and extended montage more often than not, but the characters stand out from their surroundings regardless. They force us to look at them, to see them and dare ourselves to hate them, to find them reprehensible as they live out every dark impulse we've ever spoken in moments of hyperbole. The film's only moral compass is the aptly named Faith (Selena Gomez), a church-going, baby-faced girl who defends her childhood friends from claims that they may be touched by the devil. Regardless of her Christian leanings, Faith doesn't seem terribly fazed when she learns that Brit (Ashley Benson), Cotty (Rachel Korine), and Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) held up a chicken stand with squirt guns to pull in the extra hundreds necessary to get them to Florida for spring break. Gomez, Hudgens, and Benson (to an extent, as she's on ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars) are all ex or current Disney girls, and middle finger lifts aside, you've gotta give them credit for the serious balls it must have taken to step up and go for the depravity depicted in this film. All three of them just opened up an indie cinema door straight out of typecasting and into the cult hive mind. If they're lucky, a few years down the line they could work that into the clout of Chloe Sevigny.
Disney tangent aside, in Florida, we learn about the girls in cyclical scenes. Korine uses repeated voice-over narration: phone calls to grandma from the girls talking about how special this place is, how much fun they're having, and how many friends they're making that loop over crowded, frenzied party sequences so crammed with drugs, booze, naked bodies, and carnality that Caligula would look on enviously. They want to stay forever, to leave school and live in this other world. It's a filth odyssey, but enviably shot and matched to the Skrillex score (see? he's good for something...) to absolute perfection. Before long, lesser sins begin to pool and the girls fall in with a grill-mouthed underground rapper and crime impresario who calls himself Alien (James Franco) because, of course, he's not of this world. As Alien, Franco kills it. He single-handedly resuscitates his career so that his Oscar fumblings and god-awful short stories seem nothing but distant memories. While the girls work as raunch-goddess nymphets, Franco allows the film to step back from their postured porn shtick and regain its dark, disturbing sense of humor. He's as magnetically vile as they are, but likable in a way that frames their future actions, that allows for a heightening of the already absurd context that reminds you, from time to time, that yes, this is a form of satire.