With ‘Kaboom‘, Gregg Araki’s back with another fun, trippy, sex fueled queer cinema movie that can appeal to everyone who loves indie films. I’m always shocked when people who love indie film still haven’t heard of Araki since he was at the forefront of the queer cinema movement back in the late 80′s, and his film ‘The Living End‘ both shocked and excited critics and moviegoers alike. He was always able to get a cool cast like Margaret Cho, Johnathon Schaech and even Heidi Fleiss in films that felt more like creations from a drug fueled night and gave you that same feeling whether your were in the same mindset or not. The scripts weren’t the greatest, but his style and visuals made you keep coming back for more.
Then suddenly Araki took on a film no one would have ever expected him with ‘Mysterious Skin’, and he took us on an amazing journey that you had to remind yourself that you were watching a Gregg Araki film. Sadly, the distributor totally dropped the ball on this film or it could have had some great chances during awards season. It was that good. Then he followed it up with Anna Farris in ‘Smiley Face‘ which seems more like an experiment to lead to Kaboom.
Thomas Dekker is Smith, your typical 18 year old ambisexual (that’s bisexual before they finally admit they just want manmeat) who is a film studies major which his best friend Stella describes as “studying an animal on the verge of extinction.” As with most guys in this ambisexual arena, he fantasizes about Thor (Chris Zylka), his California blond hot dim surfer roommate. This is that guy most closet kids have fantasized about who is more aware of themselves than anyone else in the room and never passed a mirror they didn’t love.
One of the funnier bizarre scenes in the interaction between Smith and Thor is when the hunky surfer has learned how to self fellate on the internet and is in the middle of attempting it when Smith walks in on him. Unlike most that would immediately jump and claim to be looking for moles or a higher purpose, Thor continues unabashed while Smith watches longingly.
This is classic Araki and sets us for the rest of his ride. Smith has been plagued with nightmares, and at a party he eats a cookie dosed with Ecstasy, he runs into the other woman from these dreams, who promptly vomits on his shoes. He offers to walk her home, but on the cross-campus ramble, he has an unnerving encounter that may or may not be a hallucination. He and the girl (Nicole LaLiberte) are surrounded and assaulted by a group of strangers dressed in black and wearing animal-head masks. Smith witnesses her murder, then is rendered unconscious – and wakes up on the same spot alone, unsure whether he actually experienced the events he remembers.
Now Smith is being told that everything was just a hallucination, but suddenly the world outside of college seems pretty scary, and in the classic Araki way of getting his cast stripped own, the guy goes to the nude beach to think while his surfer roommate can’t go to sleep without being naked. The plotting of the movie may seem to plod at points, which is the case with most of his films, but Araki is making a solid point about life in college where, knowing that the outside confines of that world is fraught with pitfalls and danger, it’s easier living for the moment rather than thinking further than your next party. Especially with the world today, the future is looking so bleak, kids are more prone to want to hide in the world of Ecstasy raves (which are still going strong) if only to forget the looming future ahead of them.
Kaboom ends rather promptly as all his films, but the punchline hangs on to for for quite some time after you leave the theater. If you’re not a fan of indie film, this won’t be for you, but if you love it, Araki is back having fun again. It’s not as strong as his earlier films like ‘The Living End’ or ‘The Doom Generation’, but it’s so worth checking out nonetheless.