Spring Breakers, writer/director Harmony Korine's lurid and violent fever dream, begins with a visual and aural blast. Skrillex's alternately dreamy and grinding dubstep anthem "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" blares crisply over shots of the monsters and sprites of Spring Break drinking and flailing, bare breasts bouncing in slow motion, liquor flowing in ominous waterfalls. The colors are bright and saturated, skin golden-orange, bikinis and trunks day-glo fluorescent. It's an arresting display of hedonism, and it's hard to tell if Korine is praising the carefree kids' revelry or condemning their wicked writhing. It's grotesque in a way, but it's also alluring; if not exactly sexy, it's certainly an effectively tantalizing image of youthful indulgence. The same holds true for the rest of the film, though Korine steers pretty quickly toward darker territory.
Though it's not much of a narrative, Spring Breakers chiefly concerns four college girlfriends who are desperate to flee boring school life for the beaches of Florida. In murmuring speech, our story's ostensible heroine Faith (Selena Gomez) says that the trip is about escaping, about breaking out of the humdrum doldrums of their easy, passive lives and really experiencing something. That she's using all this elevated language to talk about some sleazy beach in south Florida is a joke, I'm fairly sure, but Korine doesn't take any time to wink at us, he offers few hints as to his intentions. Determined but broke, the girls must figure out how to fund their dream vacation. Though Faith is a bored-ish good girl who goes to prayer meetings, she's childhood friends with three rowdy, stringy-haired sex-kittens who, like underpanted sirens, are calling Faith into the dark. The girls — Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), and Cotty (Rachel Korine, wife of the director) — decide suddenly that the best way to get the money is through robbing the local chicken shack. Have they done something like this before? It doesn't seem so, but they easily steal a professor's car anyway and loudly relieve the chicken place of its money. It's clear that the girls are a little wacked, taking a bit too much pleasure in shoving black-painted waterguns in people's faces and screaming violent threats. The actresses are obviously having fun with this too; in Benson and Hudgens's cases, the opportunity to break out of the relative innocence of teen-programming is seized with giggling, squealing avidity. They'll have more and worse to giggle about by picture's end.