I’ve always respected Gregg Araki as a director, but have never particularly enjoyed his films. I usually find his unique brand of high gloss homosexual camp to be grating rather than humorous; art house trash that transcends its creator’s own over-the-top intentions. The nihilistic death cult mystery Kaboom features all of Araki’s signature flourishes, but feels surprisingly fresh and is ultimately a slick, intermittently fun watch. The film is packed with attractive young people who cross sexual lines of orientation and the supernatural as 18 year old college student Smith (the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake’s Thomas Dekker) learns that he is the “Chosen One” in a conspiracy that involves witchcraft, incest, and psychic powers. The plot is just Araki playing with genre conventions for the sake of laughs, the film’s true achievement is its accurate portrayal of late adolescence. Even the most insignificant of events feels epic and things like term papers and concerts take precedence over health or feelings. The film can be interpreted a number of ways for those who dare to try, I saw it as colorful, well-shot indie smut that doesn’t take itself the least bit seriously. In a good way.
Kaboom opens at the Ritz at the Bourse today.