A patchwork of soft-core porn and cult thriller parody, "Kaboom" is Gregg Araki's latest wallow in young people having sex and discovering their sexuality set against some subject utterly unrelated to all that copulating.
Araki (“Mysterious Skin”) takes us to a fictional college campus where his hero, Smith (Thomas Dekker), is a freshman who can declare his major, but not his sexual orientation.
“I’m more ... undeclared.”
He fantasizes about his Himbo surfer roommate, Thor (Chris Zylka, amusingly doltish); takes repeated tumbles with the determinedly hetero London (Juno Temple); and confides all to his artsy “vagitarian best friend” Stella (Haley Bennett of “The Haunting of Molly Hartley”).
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Stella has fallen for a sex-crazed, crazy-sexy and just plain crazy foreign student named Lorelei (Roxanne Mesquida), a “witch” with mysterious powers.
Stella is the hip one, ready with a “gayer than Clay Aiken” quip when labeling this student or that one. Stella and Smith are fast kids who run with a fast crowd, popping party snacks covered in pills and hallucinating ritual killings of their fellow students.
OK, that’s just Smith. Did he really see those men in animal masks grab and murder a redhead right in front of him? Or was that the Ecstasy talking?
He’s not so paranoid or concerned that he doesn’t continue randomly hooking up with guys on the beach or on the Internet, or further confusing himself with the sexually insatiable London.
Stella, meanwhile, isn’t managing her planned break-up with the witch, not without several more supernaturally charged rolls in the sheets.
And then both Smith and Stella are hit head-on by evidence of a cult, a conspiracy and their destinies, in which the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance. “Kaboom” indeed.
Araki’s real interest here is in the sex habits of college kids, so he doesn’t even try to make the whole cult thing realistic or interesting. He laughably packs most of his exposition – here’s what you need to know, what’s really going on – in an absurdly verbose and eye-rolling sequence of about five minutes in the third act.
This isn’t satire, it isn’t that funny, and the only bits that work are the titillating ones.
All of the energy here was expended in creating the cutesy-candid come-ons and come-hithers among the mating masses.
And if that’s all Araki wants to portray, he should just own that and take up residence in that corner of the cinema formerly sold in plain brown wrappers.
* 1/2 ***
Cast: Thomas Dekker, Chris Zylka, Haley Bennett, Brandy Futch, Juno Temple, Roxanne Mesquida
Director: Gregg Araki
Running time: 1:26
Rating: Unrated, with violence, profanity, frank sexual content