There’s nothing cool about trying too hard. You don’t get ‘mad props’ for staying late in the office or sending one last text to the apple of your eye. No doubt the cool cats that create the cast list of Kaboom would tell their Director Gregg Araki to slow down, man, like, it’s just a film so chill out. Araki manages to free-wheel his way through numerous genres and pump every colour in the rainbow into a kaleidoscope as messy and ultimately unstable as the characters involved, here. A tale of sexual-awakening-cum-sci-fi-college-drama, the film contains enough hormone induced characters and crass one liners to power E4 for a year.

Thomas Dekker plays Smith, a confused adolescent coming to terms with his sexuality (he likes it every way with everyone) and the strange events unfolding around him. A heavy-handed dream scene illustrates this in a patronising opener, setting the tone for the thankfully short 120 minutes that follow. Walking down a white glowing corridor with teen sirens panting either side, Smith is confronted by a mysterious red dumpster, Araki immediately offering up Lynchian undertones to his 90210 styled movie. These continue throughout – a tenuous plot sees Smith and his friends encounter bizarre supernatural situations as they jump from dormitory to disco all the while being pursued by men in animal masks. It’s a heady mix that takes its time to meld, but even a combination of dry, savvy scripting and crafty performances don’t quite pull it off.

Juno Temple and Roxane Mesquida are particularly good as the women in Smiths life, dripping with sardonic wit and sex appeal, and both carry many scenes, but it’s never enough.

True, the film has an easy style and Araki has a watchable palette, but he attempts too much. Launching in enigmatic fashion, the light-footed caper rapidly changes into a melodramatic mess. The absurd atmosphere created, its self-awareness and frankly silly final third can’t help us think that this was very much on purpose.

By Ian Roebuck

Originally published in issue 30 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. July 2011