If the eyes are a window to the soul, Gregg Araki’s Kaboom sees deep into a vibrant apocalyptic void no one can escape. His lustful young protagonists compete for control over contradicting perspectives, projecting a shifting landscape of uncertainty that is endlessly detailed yet incomplete. The post-modern world of mass communication seems to be ripping apart, with the facade of conventional college life (promiscuity, partying, the occasional study session) building a wall of self-indulgence around Araki’s lead character, Smith, a sexually confused student whose crumbling dreamscapes begin to overlap with his increasingly menacing daily routine. While the pieces to the film’s mysteries (including Smith’s complicated back story, a campus murder) grow stranger and more ambiguous, Araki becomes increasingly obsessed with shades of color. Bleached white dream sequences, close-ups on blue and brown pupils, and striking patterns of red within the costume design all point to an auteurist obsession with texture, an aesthetic pattern that eventually overwhelms all logic. In terms of plot, Kaboom might be intermittently silly and fleeting, but it produces an evocative tone that can’t be denied. Dramatic conversations and actions turn staunchly elliptical where most films would rely on plot devices to spin the story forward. Eventually Kaboom completely consumes itself (and Earth!), Araki envisioning a topsy-turvy head space for Smith and the rest of the horny collective to watch the world burn. In the end, you can never trust those lying eyes.
– Cross-posted in the Screening Log at Not Coming to a Theater Near You