Screenwriting books insist that you should never switch genres halfway through a script, because you run the risk of confusing and annoying your audience. I don’t have a problem with that sort of track-switching in theory… but I usually end up preferring one half of the movie to the other, and wishing the writer had just stuck with the genre they were most comfortable and/or experienced with. I’d cite From Dusk ‘Till Dawn as the most obvious example… and Gregg Araki’s Kaboom (2010) as the most recent example.
Kaboom starts off as a bright, poppy, pansexual comedy about cute college students hooking up [which I really enjoyed]… then it starts weaving in elements of supernatural horror and noir mystery [which also seemed to work pretty well]… then it turns into an apocalyptic sci-fi conspiracy thriller, about a secret cult who are planning to plunge the world into nuclear Armageddon [and it all goes to pot]. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the idea behind it, I guess, just that Araki didn’t seem to have the time or the resources to really sell the conspiracy stuff… and most of what we learn about the cult is simply told to us by supporting characters in the final act, rather than being revealed/discovered organically throughout the preceding story. In my hypothetical (and totally arrogant) remake, I’d want to scale it back and keep the action a little more grounded, so it becomes more of an upbeat, bi-curious Blue Velvet. But what do I know, right?
I thought Thomas Dekker was great as the film’s sexually ambiguous hero, ‘Smith’… I didn’t recognise him from anything in particular, but it turns out he’s been acting since the mid-90s, and is a very capable and charismatic performer. The impressive cast also includes Haley Bennett (as Smith’s acerbic best-friend ‘Stella’), Roxane Mesquida (as Stella’s sexy/scary stalker ‘Lorelei/Laura’), Nicole LaLiberte (as a mesmerising ‘Red-Haired Girl’ who may or may not have been murdered) and Kelly Lynch (as Smith’s high-powered Mom). The main draw here for me though was Juno Temple, who plays Smith’s enigmatic and liberated new “fun buddy”, ‘London’. She gets some good scenes, some memorable lines, and a little action scene near the end of the movie, so yay for that! Araki and Dekker only have the most complimentary things to say about her on the commentary track, and… well, maybe this is just me projecting, but I get the sense that pretty much everyone who works with her seems to fall a little bit in love with her. And how could they not?