Sundance – Kaboom
Gregg Araki had a lot to say about his film Kaboom when introducing it at yesterday’s screening. It’s his tenth feature film, his eighth to screen at Sundance, and the first one to go to Cannes. He called it his ‘most overtly Lynchian’ film. He called it his most beautiful and his most autobiographical. Whatever the hell that means. If I’m reading the film right, it means he slept with a lot of people in a college filled with cult members, witches with special powers and all the students there score a nearly perfect three on the Kinsey scale. He gave the film the tagline ‘a bisexual Twin Peaks that takes place in college’. When asked about his decision to place the story in college, he explained he found that point in people’s life extremely interesting, a time when you really discover who you are, what your sexuality is, and what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. All of this, mind you, was the introduction. He didn’t stick around for a Q&A.
Kaboom is highly stylized, filmed like a comic book adaptation. It follows a sexually confused, but mostly gay eighteen year old, beginning his education at a liberal arts college in California. After eating a psychedelic drug-laced cookie at a party, he sees men wearing animal masks murdering a naked co-ed on campus. This is the beginning of him discovering a monstrous conspiracy. He’s sure to have lots of sex along the way.
It seems confusing that Araki would claim interest in a period of young lives where they’re supposed to so unsure of themselves, in a state of self-discovery, and then to give his characters such distinguished and exact personalities. The kids in Kaboom aren’t confused. They’re just sluts. And perhaps this is because I’m an ardent fan of David Lynch, but Araki’s claim on his style of filmmaking is a bit overkill. Where Lynch takes you into a spiraling descent into madness and terror, Araki takes the film into a ridiculously campy, and poorly written comic book. The ending scenes of the film are so ridiculous, the movie stopped being a pleasantly quirky and funny film, to a more WTF-this-is-lame-wish-I-was-waitlisting-that-financial-crisis-doc-instead sort of film. It may be out of line to expect a certain level of coherence from a film at a festival dedicated to experimental filmmaking, but Kaboom just falls flat in my opinion.
I’m sure you offended every republican in the country, Araki, but this isn’t a very good movie.