May 31, 2011

Movie Rating: 7/10 DVD Rating: 4/10

A lot of people are calling
Kaboom (eOne) a return to form for director Gregg Araki, whose ’90s output includes such bi-curious indie fare as Totally F***ed Up, The Doom Generation and Nowhere (otherwise known as his "Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy"). Though Araki didn’t write his previous feature, 2007’s underrated stoner gem Smiley Face, that film feels more aligned with Kaboom’s candy-coated vibe than the filmmaker’s angrier early efforts.  

This is not to say that Kaboom scales entirely back on the dark stuff – a campus-stalking cult threatens to blow up the earth… heavy shit – but every moment is executed with such dopey glee that it all feels like one drugged-out orgy as opposed to anything remotely nihilistic.    

The plot concerns a “sexually undeclared” 19-year-old pretty boy whose freaky dream starts to bleed into reality after he sees a female student get stabbed in the head by a trio of animal mask-wearing psycho killers. As he and his best friend contend with a supernatural nympho and the impending apocalypse, Kaboom deliriously switches from teen soap opera to playful slasher to even goofier sci-fi, with horny tongue planted in sexy cheek.

Like some stoner pastiche of Twin Peaks and Clueless, Kaboom’s aesthetic is pleasantly ’90s. Rife with awkward transitions, clunky voice-over and eccentric art direction, there’s hardly a moment in the film that isn’t brazenly self-aware. Anyone doubting the film’s jokey intent should look no further than its film studies-majoring protagonist who narrates over clips of Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou. No filmmaker could be that unknowingly pretentious... let alone one who was once at the forefront of independent cinema.

Similar to Smiley Face and those earlier films, Kaboom is a refreshing helping of campy ingenuity that hopefully won‘t discourage Araki from pursuing more mature projects, or perhaps adapting someone else’s material, as he did with 2004’s utterly brilliant Mysterious Skin. Fun as his films typically are, restraint isn’t always a bad thing.

The DVD looks and sounds just fine, but offers zero extra content. Perhaps an outlandish movie such as this should speak for itself, but I suspect a commentary or making-of would be anything if not vastly amusing.