I’ve been a fan of Gregg Araki since my junior year in high school. A friend turned me onto his most outrageous and hard-to-find film, Nowhere, the third film in his teen apocalypse trilogy. I’ve been addicted ever since. Following Nowhere, Araki has given us a cinematic art drama in the form of Mysterious Skin, which features amazing performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Elisabeth Shue, then a zany stoner comedy in the form of Smiley Face, showcasing the hilarious and greatly under-appreciated actress Anna Faris.
And while each of these films had a distinct ‘Araki’ feel to them, they were still missing what made the filmmaker great: sucking you into a superficial world of teen angst absurdity teeming on the edge of an apocalyptic event. Both Mysterious Skin and Smiley Face weren’t written by Araki. This made both films seem almost alien in content when compared to Araki’s older works. With his new film, Kaboom, Araki returns to his outlandish roots to bring us a magical sex-filled conspiracy theory riddled with hilarious situations and crowd cheering rhetoric.
Kaboom stars Thomas Dekker (The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Heroes, A Nightmare on Elm Street), Haley Bennett, Juno Temple, Kelly Lynch and James Duval (making it his fourth collaboration with Araki). The film centers around Smith (Dekker), a 18-year old, horny and sexually-confused college student in Southern California who occasionally makes the rounds at campus parties and hangs with his best friend Stella (Bennett) and his sex friend London (Temple). After a precognitive dream involving unknown characters and symbolic imagery, Smith begins to question his surroundings, stumbling upon a hidden society. The lovely Kelly Lynch makes an appearance as Smith’s mother, a very important and busy industry player that holds a secret about his family history. Along his journey of sexual discovery and helping his best friend Stella navigate a stalker ex-girlfriend who just happens to be a witch, he discovers the truth about his heritage and what mysterious circumstances he was born into.
While the cinematography and story aren’t up to par with his previous films, Kaboom still delivers on many levels. Not since the likes of Amy Heckerling have we seen such witty and comedic dialog meshed with inventive and creative wordplay. If there’s one thing that Araki is great at, it’s crafting his own unique world. Kaboom is hilarious, stylish, action-packed, sexy and, above all else, entertaining.
Kaboom currently has a theatrical run at the IFC Center in New York City, the Landmark’s NuArt Theater in Los Angeles and the Bridge Theater in San Francisco. Additional markets and theaters are to follow. The film is also currently available on IFC On Demand.