Sundance 2011 Review: KABOOM

by: Chase Whale
January 22nd, 2011

Rating: 4/5

Writer/director: Gregg Araki
Cast: Haley BennettThomas Dekker, Juno TempleJames Duval

KABOOM is filthy. If your eyes have ever been enriched with a Gregg Araki film (THE DOOM GENERATION, NOWHERE, and MYSTERIOUS SKIN to name a few), then you’re in for an explosion of chaos. After walking out of KABOOM, I wanted to take a nice, hot shower to wash off the dirtiness of what my eyeballs just watched, but holy hell I had a blast. KABOOM is 86 minutes of raunch, sex, cults, witches, dirty girl Juno Temple, and, yes, people wearing animal masks - and it’s all so fun.

I don’t know where to begin describing the story. KABOOM opens with college boy Smith (Thomas Dekker) having a dream. He’s walking down a hall, naked, passing two girls he’s never seen before, and it ends with him opening a door (with "19" slapped on it - this is crucial to the story) to a white room with a red garbage dumpster. This dream has been reoccurring for the last five nights and he doesn’t understand what it means. At a party one night, he runs into both girls from that dream. One vomits on him, and the other goes home with his best friend Stella (Haley Bennet). Things then, well, explode into a world of complications.

Araki parodies Hollywood’s most used stereotype. Smith’s roommate Thor (Chris Zylka) is a very good-looking blonde surfer dude who’s dumber than the idea of having Roseanne Barr sing the National Anthem at a baseball game (Google that). He’s not gay (no bros are, right?), but he and his best friend wrestle each other in their briefs while accusing the other of liking boys.  Zylka doesn’t overkill the stereotype, but milks playing the character with everything he’s got.

Juno Temple shows up in the film as a rowdy girl who sleeps with Smith for fun and teaches others how to orally please a girl. She’s rarely seen with clothes on or not having sex with someone, and this is me telling you that I’m not complaining. Temple’s London is a real charmer.

In the first half of the film, we’re watching an Araki film we’re used to. He champions homoeroticism, and his characters live without boundaries or rules. Strange is normal. Everyone sleeps with everyone. Araki beautifies raunch with extreme close-ups, slow motion, vibrant music, and awkward angles of cinematography. The man achieves exactly what he wants. There’s a lot of sex in KABOOM. A lot. Dekker’s Smith isn’t gay, isn’t straight, and isn’t sure what he wants but he’ll sleep with a guy or a girl if they ask.

When Smith’s dream finally makes sense, things get batshit crazy. Our final act strays completely away from what we’re used to from Araki. He is definitely saying something with this film. I agree with myself in saying he’s humorously giving the finger to the cruel critics who bashed his teen angst trilogy (TOTALLY FUCKED UP, THE DOOM GENERATION, NOWHERE) a while back. Or he could be saying "fuck you" to everyone. If you’re a fan of Araki’s previous work or just want to see something really fucked up, KABOOM is your movie.

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