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Kaboom

Greg Araki’s Mysterious Skin, although it expended a little goodwill with an over-wrought tendency to wallow rather than observe, was a powerful, interesting look at buried memories and oblivion.

Kaboom, then, carries a certain expectation. Advance press dangerously spoke of ‘David Lynch meets Beverly Hills 90210’ leanings. It was apparently ‘nightmarish’, ‘genuinely scary’ and ‘a crazed joyride on which nothing is at it seems’.

For the first hour, Kaboom is a fairly successful soft-porn retread of Daniel Clowes/Michael Lehmann territory. We have the college kid, Thomas Dekker, who looks like Rob Lowe 25 years ago, fantasising about his room-mate, Thor, who looks like Thor and sounds like you’d imagine: a doofus. Because our central protagonist is gay and incessantly horny, Thor is on Dekker’s ‘tug-cinema’ roll-call. He does nothing to dissuade such unbeknownst erotic enlistment by openly trying to fellate himself.

Then you have the best-friend (Haley Bennett), a de-rigeur sourpuss babe with acrid asides and withering beauty. She’s a lesbian ‘seeing’ a Russian witch, until the (again beautiful) morose object of fleeting desire becomes, literally, too possessive. In a teen-show voodoo-doll style, replete with head-yanking, limb-twisting moves.

Furthermore comes the Brit girl, ‘London’ (Juno Temple), the best thing in the film by a mile, with a laissez-faire attitude to modesty and a few tutorials in cunnilingus. And the ability to root-out bisexual men for a quick birthday threesome.

A couple of storylines run through this carnal carnage but often flounder in a sea of camp. There’s a ‘mysterious’ sequence of cryptic messages that we don’t care about (and which lead to a barmy cult/parental element) and a girl found in a bright-red dumpster, which we continually revisit in flashback/dream-sequence/hallucination segments involving men in pig-masks that feel tacked on as a breather from all the sex and close-ups of immaculate ciphers.

It often looks wonderful, and there are plenty of Bret Easton Ellis touches: blue-neon, hip rancour, great clothes, cool laptops, lush environs, chic dread. And the script has the odd highpoint, despite often sounding like a curdled version of  Saved By The Bell.

The layers of disbelief, though, become tricky to suspend as Araki’s ruse is blown. His borrowed strands become frayed and he throws in a savagely daft conspiracy deus-ex-machina failsafe, with literally no-one being who they seemed to be – half-baked characters out of a pilot-only madfest – and are lamely revealed as X-Files rug-pullers where they were perfectly serviceable as rug-munchers, a shamefully inept volte-face that Shaggy and Scoob would balk at.

The film has been described as ‘fun’, and it is, until Araki decides he can handle the nauseating swing from frothy, provocative comedy/drama to all-out horror. It ceases to be fun, interesting, explicable or tolerable.

Peter Bradshaw, Guardian film critic, suggests that this is ‘bordering on the ridiculous’. I suggest that this film is completely mad, chaos strung on a flimsy thread of teen-delusion, and hatstand bonkers, but not, in the end, in a good way. In a self-absorbed, preposterously careening, preening way: there is no shape to the film beyond the 70-minute mark, anything goes, and I went with five minutes to spare. Whoever greenlit Kaboom wants blowing up.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Marc Gardner
    June 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    That kid DOES look like Jared Leto!

    • Marc Gardner
      June 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Despite you saying Rob Lowe.

      • June 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm

        He does look like Leto, though, particularly the Requiem hair. But he ain’t as good.

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