Trash Fire was admittedly, and unfortunately, one of the films we missed at the Telluride Horror Show. Efrit and I try to catch everything we can, but sometimes a couple of films slip through our fingers, and in this case it was a nice gem of a film.
Trash Fire follows Owen, who, after discovering his girlfriend, Isabel, is pregnant, is driven into a situation in which he must visit his estranged sister and grandmother to prove he can house the family qualities necessary to raise a child. Given his very rough history with his two relatives, he is expecting to come into a disastrous situation. And given the ominous feeling upon their arrival, he just may have been right.
Trash Fire has the feeling of an incredibly dry, dark indie dramedy for the first half hour or so. Owen is unabashedly cruel and negative towards his girlfriend Isabel with comment after comment degrading her, her friends, and her family, despite regular threats from Isabel that she can't take it anymore. It all comes to a boiling point when Isabel confesses she is pregnant and eventually their arguments and discussions lead to him wanting to commit to her and the baby. Isabel decides the only way she can trust his intentions is to force him to reconnect with his family.
Owen is initially against this request for obvious reasons I will not reveal here, but it is at this point in the story that your distasteful feelings towards Owen begin to turn slowly as the picture of his past life unravels on the screen. It's actually a rather twisted tale that eventually leads to an intense conclusion.
It is worth noting that despite its inclusion in the horror genre, Trash Fire is far more tame than I was expecting. It doesn't start to amp things up until well into the third act. Having said that, the tension and delivery of the story is gripping and engaging. I was interested in the developments and revelations of the characters and couldn't wait to see the horror come to a head. It wasn't the most horror of horrors, but it was definitely worth a watch.