Directed by Gregg Araki
Starring Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett, Juno Temple, James Duval
In order to enjoy “Kaboom,” you must first have a tolerance — better yet, a craving — for kitsch and chaos. Gregg Araki’s brisk, upbeat and sometimes psychedelic experience starts off as a perky college romp but quickly evolves into bedlam that involves cults, voodoo, witches and kinky sex.
Smith (Thomas Dekker), a horny ambisexual, is in his first year of college — and what a twisted year it becomes. The troubles that beset him at the start of the film — longing for romance, lusting after his straight roommate — are soon forgotten once he accidentally witnesses a woman get murdered by men in animal masks. With the help of his witty best friend, Stella, he investigates and finds himself trapped in a trippy, nightmarish narrative that may or may not be the result of hallucinations.
With a momentum that gathers exponentially, Smith’s life accelerates into a series of spontaneous sexual encounters and ever-increasing threats from mysterious cultish figures.
Araki has no qualms about letting atmosphere and visual spectacle preempt logic: Exposition comes in fits and starts, and the grand finale barrels down on you with little notice. It’s liable to make a viewer fume with frustration, but if you stick with it, “Kaboom” is buoyant and oddly compelling.
Playing at IFC Center