(director/writer: Gregg Araki; cinematographer: Sandra Valde-Hansen; editor: Gregg Araki; music: Robin Guthrie/Mark Peters/Ulrich Schnauss/Vivek Maddala; cast: Thomas Dekker (Smith), Haley Bennett (Stella), Chris Zylka (Thor), Roxane Mesquida (Lorelei), Juno Temple (London), Andy Fischer-Price (Rex), Kelly Lynch (Nicole), Jason Olive (Hunter), Brennan Mejia (Oliver), Nicole LaLiberte (Red-Haired Girl), Michael James Spall (Smith’s Dad), Carlo Mendez (Milo), James Duval (The Messiah); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Gregg Araki/Andrea Sperling/Pascal Caucheteux; IFC Films; 2010-B/W)

“What works best are the sex scenes, as the plot is just a distraction.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

You can reserve a seat of honor for the now 51-year-old filmmaker of ten films, the veteran Gregg Araki (“The Doom Generation”/”Nowhere”), in the New Queer Cinema movement. In Kaboom he gives his weirdness, silliness and sophomoric black comedy a wild ride in this audacious youth-orientated film. It’s a raucous film designed to please his anything goes hipster fan base, who have come to expect from him such a comic book-styled, campy, kinky sexual and dopey supernatural sci-fi romp. All other viewers should be warned that it’s probably not a film for you. Shot on a modest budget, with actors better looking than talented, it comes across as a technically efficient film that might have seemed like a good idea when conceived but is not that great of an idea when executed. With all that said, I let my hair down and enjoyed this funky film for its wacky sex scenes that pushed its upsetting to the establishment incorrect morality values message.

We follow the ambisexual 18-year-old Smith (Thomas Dekker), a sexual experimenter unsure of where he comes down on his sexual preference, who is willing to go to bed with anyone in the movie but guys in animal masks. He goes to a fictional college named “College of Creative Arts,” that is somewhere on the Southern California coast, to major in film studies, with his sarcastic, lesbian, art major friend Stella (Haley Bennett). The freshman has no interest in studying, but loves partying. His surfer roommate Thor (Chris Zylka), a free-spirit straight hunky Viking type, gets his lustful attention.

Smith attends a college party with Stella, who hooks up with Lorelei (Roxane Mesquida), who happens to be a lesbian nympho witch. Stella leaves the party for all-night sex with her possessive witch, who needs to be pleasured for long periods beyond Stella’s belief. When a red-headed (Nicole LaLiberte) party guest pukes on Smith’s right shoe, at the party, he goes to the bathroom to clean-up and meets there the liberated London (Juno Temple). He will boff her back in his dorm room. But at the party our boy wolf’s down a brownie laced with LSD and trips out all night thinking he sees a red-head being chased and murdered by guys in animal masks.This turns out to be a recurring dream of his and the main plot idea, as the film turns in the second part into a half-baked conspiracy thriller film that has Smith investigate his dream with Stella and London. They will find out to their dismay that his classmates are not who they say they are and everything that is happening to him is connected with his past and the mysterious disappearance of his cult figure father (Michael James Spall) when he was little.

The line between what’s real and what’s fiction becomes blurred for the freshman. Meanwhile Stella’s scared, as she’s being stalked by her psychopath witch lover using voodoo on her.

You can make any assumption you want about what’s going down since it doesn’t really matter in such a loopy film. What works best are the sex scenes, as the plot is just a distraction.

      Bennett and Thomas Dekker in Kaboom

REVIEWED ON 10/30/2019       GRADE: B-