“Uncompromising in attitude, Bates remains one of the truest voices in American cult cinema. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be scarred for life.” – Sundance Film Festival
Longtime couple Owen (ENTOURAGE’s Adrian Grenier) and Isabelle (THE FINAL GIRLS’ Angela Trimbur) are hatefully in love. The survivor of a horrific family tragedy in his childhood, Owen has always had issues with intimacy and trust, shielding himself beneath an armour of spiteful sarcasm and casual contempt, often directed at poor Isabelle, who’s well past her breaking point. Yet, a couple they remain — and they’re going to have a baby! Determined to see if Owen can be a family man, Isabelle insists a road trip so that she may finally meet his surviving relatives, eccentric grandmother Violet (Fionnula Flanagan) and horribly burned sister Pearl (EXCISION’s AnnaLynne McCord), opening a rotting Pandora’s box of secrets, lies and murder that may prove to be the undoing of them all.
Richard Bates Jr’s third feature, following on the heels of his inspired EXCISION and SUBURBAN GOTHIC, TRASH FIRE mines uncomfortable laughs from interpersonal dysfunction and a myriad of phobias, personal demons and deep-rooted resentment, proving once again that much of the best comedy is born from pain. In fact, TRASH FIRE was scripted while the filmmaker was in the grip of debilitating depression, yet while the echoes of his suffering are vividly evident, he’s made something wildly entertaining and full of empathy and wit (and some serious grand guignol shock value). His comically wounding dialogue drips venom with a damaged heart, his brilliantly chosen cast bringing it to life with a fervour you can’t look away from. While its lead character is nihilistic to the extreme, the film is anything but, one of a string of challenging balances that Bates pulls off seemingly on raw intuition. Acerbic, hilarious and packing one hell of an honest emotional punch, TRASH FIRE is the strongest work yet from a gifted filmmaker who’s growing more fascinating by the minute.
— Mitch Davis