SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2011
By Don Simpson | January 21, 2011
Director: Gregg Araki
Writer: Gregg Araki
Starring: Roxane Mesquida, Thomas Dekker, Juno Temple, Rooney Mara, Haley Bennett, James Duval
Smith (Thomas Dekker) senses impending doom as he walks down a hallway towards a black door with blue number 19 on it — Smith has had “this same bizarre fucking dream” every night since he moved into his hyper-stylized college dorm last week. Does this recurring dream actually mean something or is this — as his “vagitarian” best friend Stella (Haley Bennett) describes dreams — just his “brain taking a dump at the end of the day”?
Smith is 18 years old, horny, undeclared sexually (that is he “does not believe in standardized sexual pigeonholes”) and a films studies major (which Smith freely admits is “like studying an animal on the verge of extinction”). Stella is at college with Smith, she is studying art but views college as “just an intermission between high school and the rest of your life; its four years of having sex, making stupid mistakes and experiencing stuff.” Thor (Chris Zylka) — yeah, like the superhero god of thunder with the big hammer (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) — is Smith’s dumb as a brick surfer hunk roommate; Thor is purportedly straight, but Smith fantasizes about his roommate’s less masculine traits. Southern California’s “College of Creative Arts” with pitch black cafes, lusciously lit dorms and windowed structures that look nothing at all like a college campus, contains a bunch of beautiful people who are sexually ambiguous orgasm addicts.
On one fateful night, Smith eats a mysteriously laced cookie at a college party which results in him sliding down a proverbial rabbit hole as he trips the lights fantastic. A mysterious red-haired girl (Nicole LaLiberte) — who is also a character in Smith’s recurring dream — vomits on Smith’s shoes; while cleaning the upchuck off of his shoes, Smith meets a super sexed up blonde chick named London (Juno Temple) who cums in colors. At the same party, Stella meets up with Lorelei (Roxane Mesquida) — yes, as in the “legendary siren who lures sailors to their doom” — a f-ing hot lesbian witch with “special talents” (as in she has “supernatural powers”). “I know, pretty cool huh?” Yes, there is more to Lorelei than meets the eye (Lorelei is also a character in Smith’s recurring dream). Smith’s response to Stella’s proclamation that her sexy new fuck buddy is a witch is a very appropriate “Uh, what?”, exactly.
It is not without irony that Stella thinks witchcraft is perfectly normal but when Smith confides in Stella about a strange animal mask wearing cult “The New Order” (no relation to the seminal new wave band) that is behind a rash of disappearances and murders, she tells him that he was just hallucinating. It turns out that “strange seems to be the new normal” in director Gregg Araki’s hyper stylized and hyper-textualized world where dreams and hallucinations run rampant and the witches, conspiracy theories and mysterious cults are as real as the coed’s are horny.
Other than it’s purposeful loosening of sexual categorizations (if referring to the Kinsey Scale, there are definitely no 0’s or 6’s in Arakiland), Kaboom is pure unfiltered saccharine. There is nothing here to be taken seriously; trust me this is just Araki having a blast with Hollywood conventions, which explains the many overtly contrived scenes and overused stereotypes (the aged stoner R.A., the lesbian witch).
Araki’s deft directorial control of this candy-colored supernatural cult thriller is quite impressive, but not nearly as impressive as his knack for zinging one-liners (“sucking a fart out of a dead sea gull’s ass”; “it’s a vagina, not a bowl of spaghetti”). Kaboom is like a hyper-sexed feature length episode of Gossip Girl as directed by an Ecstasy induced mash-up of Joss Whedon, David Lynch and Richard Kelly. As Stella would say, Kaboom is “nuttier than squirrel shit” and I love every single frame. Uh, yeah…it’s like awesomeness personified. OK now, please just pass the bong and press play.
Kaboom makes its simultaneous U.S. premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and on IFC Films On-Demand today, January 21, 2011.