One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival is Gregg Araki’s Kaboom. Since no trailers or footage had been released prior to the festival, many were curious what kind of movie he had made. Would it be serious like Mysterious Skin or was he returning to his earlier days and making another Doom Generation or Nowhere.
Well, after watching the NSFW clips, it’s pretty clear Kaboom is a return to his roots and it looks like only something Araki could come up with. Hit the jump to check out the clips and I’ve also posted some snippets of a few reviews:
Here’s the synopsis:
A hyper-stylized TWIN PEAKS for the Coachella Generation, featuring a gorgeous, super hot young cast, KABOOM is a wild and sex-drenched horror-comedy thriller that tells the story of Smith, an ambisexual 18-year-old college freshman who stumbles upon a monstrous conspiracy in a seemingly idyllic Southern California seaside town…
Smith’s everyday life in the dorms – hanging out with his arty, sarcastic best friend Stella, hooking up with a beautiful free spirit named London, lusting for his gorgeous but dim surfer roommate Thor – all gets turned upside-down after one fateful, terrifying night. Tripping on some hallucinogenic cookies he ate at a party, Smith is convinced he’s witnessed the gruesome murder of an enigmatic Red Haired Girl who has been haunting his dreams
clips via QuietEarth
Here’s what a few thought of the movie:
Despite a rocky first act, the story drifts along with a persistent dedication to fun. The freely lackadaisical plot structure eventually reaches a crescendo of pure campy delight: Everything apparently builds toward something…and ends up, in a final outrageous punchline, building toward nothing at all. Araki colors the zany developments with a pure goofball mentality, sprinkling bits of radicalism onto the now-commercial slacker paradigm of “Dude, Where’s My Car?”
As Smith struggles to interpret fleeting visions of an enigmatic redhead and gradually uncovers the conspiratorial secret of his family’s past, “Kaboom” wanders into several genres with varying degrees of effectiveness. But whether it strikes a note of charm or suspense, as always with Araki, the real star of the show is the sexual politics. Smith’s defiance of labels (he refuses to call himself bisexual) matches the free love approach of his peers. A prolonged sex scene with London avoids the cop-out of innuendo with a frank and funny discussion that’s also disarmingly innocent.
Araki’s upbeat tone points to a revelation at the heart of his accomplishment. Regardless of its precedents, “Kaboom” never feels as angry as his earlier works. That’s not to say he has matured into an optimist; instead, it speaks to the way he lures you in with a deceptively cheery strategy before unleashing an ideological ambush. Consider Smith’s prophetic resident advisor, a stoner named The Messiah and appropriately played by “Doom Generation” lead James Duval. The same face from the 1995 movie reappears all grown up with no place to go. Araki even pays homage to his canon with a line referencing the “creeping sense of doom” haunting his entire ensemble.
Strange is the new normal, one character says in Gregg Araki’s “Kaboom,” which is a case of a movie giving itself a little too much credit.
This is mostly a sophomoric exercise in black comedy, supernatural excess and apocalyptic silliness mixed in with straight/gay/bi soft-core porn. All that’s truly strange here though is that Araki gets so few jolts or laughs from this hodge-podge of genres. Looks like “Kaboom” will play to Araki’s fans without significantly expanding his base.
Araki draws humour from the most unlikely places throughout. When you think you see a punch line a mile away it ends up coming from somewhere else. You’re never sure you can trust what you’re seeing, nor the characters themselves, and when you start to figure it all out it throws a curveball. All the more jarring when you abandon any notion that it might have a familiar ending only for it to surprise you once again.
It’s all unquestionably part of the charm of the piece, told with tongue firmly planted in cheek. It’s as if Araki is having a dialogue with his audience, teasing us this way and that, always aware of how outrageous his story is and is becoming. It’s most noticeable in its themes of sexuality, with Araki clutching at straws for reasons to get his hot young cast naked. Smith goes to a nudist beach because he ‘needs to think,’ and his roommate Thor just can’t get to sleep if he’s got any clothes on.
It’s never exploitative, just idiosyncratic in a way Araki knows best. It’s not nearly as seminal as his earlier works, but it’s a film which dares to be different and provides solid entertainment as it becomes increasingly, and endearingly, convoluted.