Why Not Productions, USA (2010)
Gregg Araki is known for his rather odd films, mostly full of hot, sexually-liberated young people running around and lusting after one another while the world ends; and in that respect, Kaboom is no different. The story revolves around Smith (Thomas Dekker), a young, extremely attractive college student with an ‘undeclared’ sexuality, who lusts after his equally-extremely-hot-yet-straight roommate Thor (Chris Zylka), while having great sex with ‘free spirit’ London (Juno Temple) and having deep-down talks about feelings with his cynical lesbian best friend Stella (Haley Bennett). Smith slowly gets pulled into a dark, sinister world seemingly controlled by a shadowy cult that has somehow managed to get inside his head.
So, lots of hot bodies, lots of sex, lots of feelings and lots of strange goings-on make for a pretty good Gregg Araki flick. Stylistically, it’s a good outing – the camerawork and acting are great, with the cast pulling off various degrees of teen angst and cynicism believeably and, occasionally, with a hint of underlying emotion that pulls the viewer in. This contrives to remind us that these aren’t two-dimensional characters, but real (if impossibly attractive) people with more to them than just witty one-liners and pretences at not caring about, well, anything.
The real stumbling-block for this film isn’t London’s suspicioulsy Van-Dyke-esque English accent (because all English people name their children after cities), but rather the the pace – or, more accurately, the lack thereof. The first three-quarters of the film is spent with characters who are having sex, finding someone to have sex with or talking about the people they’re having sex with. That’s fine, but then the ‘secretive cult’ storyline bubbles under for too long, taking forever to get started. Ultimately, what could be a fascinating and juxtaposed sub-plot is rushed out in the last half hour, leaving the film crashing to an unconvincing, jerky and frankly disappointing climax. Worst of all, in this reviewer’s admittedly jaded eyes, bitchy lesbian Stella gets caught up in a relationship with a witch called Laureli (Roxane Mesquida) – for no discernible reason.
Kaboom is, to say the least, a film of contrasts. On one hand, it’s a fun, light and silly piece of cinema; on the other, the irritating pacing, pointless sub-plot and tired over-egging of the ‘sexuality’ debate could leave you cold. Still, perhaps we were expecting too much. It’s not on a par with Mysterious Skin; but then, it’s not meant to be. It’s fun, frothy and full of sex. Let’s leave it at that.