TRASH FIRE (2016) Reviews and overview



Trash Fire is a 2016 American comedy horror film written and directed by Richard Bates Jr. (Tone-Deaf; Suburban Gothic; Excision).

Main cast:

Adrian Grenier, Angela Trimbur (Psychopaths; The Final Girls; Halloween II), Fionnula Flanagan (Havenhurst; The Others; Poltergeist: The Legacy – TV Series), Ezra Buzzington (Mirrors; The Hills Have Eyes), Leonel Claude, Matthew Gray Gubler (Suburban Gothic; Excision), Alexa Hamilton, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Sally Kirkland (The HauntedSuburban Gothic), Molly McCook, Michael Laren, Karl Schott, AnnaLynne McCord, Mish Way, Ray Santiago (Ash vs Evil Dead).



When Owen is forced to confront the past he’s been running from his whole adult life, he and his girlfriend, Isabel, become entangled in a horrifying web of lies, deceit and murder…


“Defying genre conventions, Bates allows many of these forceful emotions and twisted relationship dynamics to play out in nearly stationary master shots that push slowly in on the characters’ frequent sniping. Along with fairly minimal cutting, these techniques capably build tension within scenes…” Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter

“It may not necessarily be for everyone, but I dig Bates’ somewhat misanthropic voice as a storyteller and with Trash Fire, he scathingly tackles his own bout of depression through the character of Owen, someone who is so abrasive and hateful in nature that he truly is an off-putting protagonist for us to be engaged with as viewers.” Heather Wixson, Daily Dead


Trash Fire starts in a dark, desperate place and only gets darker and more desperate. It will leave you shaken, but the visceral experience of it is exhilarating. “I survived Trash Fire” could be a rite of passage for filmgoers, whether they’re horror fans or not.” Fred Topel, Bloody Disgusting

” … when we’re asked to care about the characters caught up in some generations-old gothic tragedy, all the air leaks out of the balloon. The remainder of the picture is a slow march toward a violent conclusion, as half-assed story obstacles keep Owen and Pearl from their big moment of redemption.” Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian

“The point of all this is not exactly clear, though Bates (Richard, not Norman) has said the story has origins in his own personal bout with depression. Whatever personal demons he’s trying to exorcise on screen — including a thinly veiled contempt for religion — feel grafted onto a mishmash of horror tropes that never fully embrace their genre origins until an over-the-top finale bloodbath.” Geoff Berkshire, Variety

“At the end, you’re left with a comedy that feels at times like a relationship drama. A relationship drama that becomes a horror film, and an ultimately fantastic blending of genres that add up to an addictive film that is, at turns, both hilarious and emotionally devastating.” Elijah Taylor, Fangoria

“To enhance a relatively straightforward first half, Bates and his cinematographer Shane Daly can sometimes get a little flashy with fisheye lenses and dialogue delivered straight to camera. Not all of the visual choices work. And the film builds tension only to run headfirst to its conclusion. I’m all for WTF endings, but the air comes out of this one a bit too fast.” Brian Tallerico,

Cast and characters:

  • Adrian Grenier … Owen
  • Angela Trimbur … Isabel
  • Fionnula Flanagan … Violet
  • AnnaLynne McCord … Pearl
  • Sally Kirkland … Florence
  • Matthew Gray Gubler … Caleb
  • Ezra Buzzington … Pastor Sterling
  • Molly McCook … Aimee
  • Ray Santiago … Sheldon
  • Michael Laren … Photographer
  • Clayton Jackson … Colton
  • Alexa Hamilton … Owen’s Mother
  • Karl Schott … Owen’s Father (as Karl Scott)
  • Brayden Austin … Young Owen
  • Ruby Lightfoot … Young Pearl

Filming locations:

Los Angeles, California

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