Lately 18-year-old college freshman Smith has been having a recurring dream. Supernatural and vaguely sexual in nature, this dream features several good looking people that either already or will soon play a role in his life. Probably Smith will end up having sex with these people at some point – because he tends to have sex with everyone – but then he will spend the rest of his time tracking supposed coincidences and dealing with witches. Never mind classes and STDs, Smith’s college experience is pretty much like the rest of ours: weird.
Kaboom has a lot of things going for it. Combining gay camp, sex comedy, and supernatural thrillers, the film goes in all different directions at once, creating a complicated but easy to follow plotline that never ceases to surprise. Never without a shortage of boobs and psychedelic imagery, the film is at first an experiment in pop culture magical realism with a graphic novel-style look. Yes, there are witches. Witches exist in this film and no one seems to think voodoo is impossible. These are just elements of the otherwise typical world director Gregg Araki (of Mysterious Skin and Smiley Face fame) has created. Unfortunately, the film never quite trusts itself with this dynamic and ends up explaining every supernatural detail by the end.
And despite being entertained watching Kaboom I found myself intensely annoyed. Maybe it was how they all looked: perfectly greasy with piercing eyes and neatly pruned scruff. Maybe it was the inclusion of more frequent cheesy sex scenes than The Room. Or maybe it was because I was totally hung up on the whole STD potential. Somehow the film came across as disingenuous and snarky – major turn offs. Characters use terms like “baked Alaska” for being high and “vagitarian” for lesbian. Where this was cute in Juno, it’s forced and overdone here – though with characters named “Smith,” “Thor,” and “Hunter” what can you expect?