Begged by John Waters to “make another old-school Gregg Araki movie”, the filmmaker duly obliges with an unhinged, saucy frolic that harkens back to such earlier favourites as The Doom Generation and Totally F***ed Up.
The latter is one way to describe Smith (Thomas Dekker), a film studies student at an unidentified US college who, on the eve of his 19th birthday, is unsettled both by his buffed-up Adonis of a roommate (Chris Zylka) and by freaky hallucinations that appear to portend the end of the world.
Returning home from a party and possibly under the influence of hallucinogenic cookies, Smith sees, or thinks he sees, a comely redhead (Nicole LaLiberte) stalked and killed by assailants wearing animal masks.
A headless corpse subsequently surfaces in a dumpster, putting our bisexual hero, best friend Stella (Haley Bennett) and sassy Brit chick London (Juno Temple) on the trail of a convoluted conspiracy.
It involves an underground cult, the father Smith thought was dead and a possessive witch (Roxane Mesquida) who, having got Stella into bed, isn’t going to let her out again without a fight.
It’s all deliriously nonsensical, with lots of sex, nudity and dialogue that suggests Araki’s characters have graduated with honours from the Diablo Cody school of sassy teenspeak. (“It’s a vagina, not a bowl of spaghetti!” London instructs a guy as he goes down on her, while at one stage Stella likens a tiresome chore to “sucking a fart out of a dead seagull’s ass.”)
OK, so there is something a little leering about a 51-year-old director exhorting a cast of nubile young things to strip, cavort and copulate for his delectation. But at least he lets us watch, enabling us to experience by proxy his hedonistic whirl of sunny days, easy lays and ridiculously good-looking hotties.
At a mere 86 minutes, Kaboom is best regarded as a playful time-out. Just think of it as ‘Twin Peaks, 90210’.
To quote one of its characters, Kaboom is nuttier than squirrel shit. Yet it’s good to see the respectability Araki won from 2004’s Mysterious Skin hasn’t sapped his subversive streak.