Gregg Araki made his reputation for uncompromising indie filmmaking with a the Doom Generation Trilogy. Those films explored the terror and exhilaration of being young, confused, and hormonal. His later film, MYSTERIOUS SKIN, was unflinching in its depiction of the effects of child sexual abuse on its victims. His latest, KABOOM, picks up many of his early themes, but places them squarely in a post-millenial world. When I talked with the filmmaker, he discussed what is and isn’t the same about DOOM and KABOOM, the double-edged sword of sexual labels, his debt to David Lynch.
KABOOM is a return of sorts to Araki’s cinematic origins with a black comedy about hormones, conspiracy, and apocalypse, where sex is at once the simplest and most complicated part of life. At the center of the mysterious doings on a California college campus is Smith, a beautiful freshman with flexible sexual boundaries, who, in his first week on campus discovers a plethora of partners with which to enjoy same, a murder mystery that may or may not be a figment of his imagination, and a series of anonymous messages declaring him to the chosen one. The film stars Thomas Dekker as Smith, Haley Bennet as his best gal-pal, Stella, who is having her own issues with a clingy girlfriend who may or may not be a witch, Chris Zylka as Thor, his straight and hunky roommate, who sends mixed signals, Juno Temple as London, his new acquaintance with unexpected benefits, and Kelly Lynch as his mother who is keeping a very big secret. Araki’s previous work includes the infinitely diverting DOOM GENERATION trilogy and the exquisitely troubling MYSTERIOUS SKIN, in which he had the infinite good sense to cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a troubled kid recovering from the effects of sexual abuse.