Four college girls – Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and Faith (Selena Gomez) – embark upon the ultimate spring break in Florida – sex, drugs and alcohol, included. However, when they find themselves locked up in jail and rapidly running out of money, they’re bailed out by rapper turned gangster Alien (James Franco) who promises to shower them with riches and make their wildest dreams come true.
Spring Breakers is a twisted exercise of manipulation and madness, held together by shards of a narrative that rejects against normal conventions. Opening with a Girls Gone Wild-style introduction complete with overcharged close-ups of shaking, toned, often scantily-clad teenage bodies writhing around to a dubstep-heavy soundtrack, the film never truly settles into a comfortable rhythm, instead offering a highly-charged insight into a generation obsessed with sex, drugs and violence.
It’s a ludicrously entertaining experience that tracks these four girls as they slowly get sucked into the violent, sinister behind-the-scenes undercurrent of society, influenced by Alien’s abhorrent desires for absolute power at any costs (it’s a maddeningly over-the-top performance delivered by Franco, complete with all the bling and dreadlocks you could dream of). It proves too much for Faith though, a religious girl who bails early on before the girls become pawns in Alien’s twisted sphere.
The criticisms of our party hard, sex-obsessed modern day society run riot (Britney Spears songs are subverted in delirious fashion), tapping into an uncomfortable feeling of what our current generation has become. It works in the sense that it provides a reason for Harmony Korine to completely abandon any semblance of a coherent narrative – something he’s not exactly alien to. Instead, it’s the girls’ constantly changing desires that drive the film forward, often into outré territory.
This approach that asks a lot of its audience: to abandon their inhibitions, throw caution to the wind and simply lap up every second. It’s a difficult ask, not least because it’s basically a real life video game, with injections of extremely dark humour and bikini clad, wholesome Disney stars (Hudgens and Gomez both do fine work and bask in the opportunity to play against type), but because it’s often repetitive in its musings (the line “spring breakers forever” will be lodged in your mind for eternity).
Yet none of that matters as, once you’re hooked by the dubstep and almost hypnotic way in which the girls succumb to Alien’s violent ways, Korine makes it easy for the audience to fall into a trance-like state and simply accept Spring Breakers for what it is: a surface-level spin on the American Dream that, with a collection of unexpectedly spot-on, almost method performances and bedazzling editing, presents the best spring break anyone will ever have.