The Chemicals Between Us: Kaboom

The Chemicals Between Us: Kaboom

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Artificial Eye 

Release date: June 10th 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 86 minutes

Director: Gregg Araki

Cast: Haley Bennett, Thomas Dekker, James Duval, Andy Fischer-Price, Brandy Futch, Nicole LaLiberte, Natalie Alyn Lind, Kelly Lynch, Brennan Mejia, Carlo Mendez, Roxane Mesquida, Christine Nguyen

During the 90’s, writer and director Gregg Araki made three films, known as the Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy, that somehow seemed to be about my life and the lives of my friends.

As a teenage runaway, there was something I could relate to in Totally Fucked Up (1993). With The Doom Generation (1995) I could see parallels with the characters and my friends, which should have told me there and then they weren’t really my friends! And in Nowhere (1997) chaos seemed to rain down like there was no tomorrow.


So I was curious to see what Kaboom would be like, but now that I’m in my 30’s I also wanted to see if I would still be able to relate to the teen angst, adolescent urges and misfit culture Araki brought so well to the screen when I was living it almost simultaneously.

Kaboom’s central character is Smith (Thomas Dekker). He’s 18, studying film and he hasn’t quite decided what his sexual orientation is.

Smith has a lot going on his life. His roommate, Thor (Chris Zylka), is a tall blond surfer who’s as dumb as a box of rocks, so he’s just Smith’s type but he’s straight. His best friend, Stella (Haley Bennett), is hooking up with Lorelei (Roxane Mesquida) who may or may not be a witch. At a party, a cute guy called Oliver (Brennan Mejia) is interested him. There’s an English girl called London (Juno Temple) who accosts him for sex in the toilets and if that isn’t enough, he’s also getting juiced by a guy he met at a nude beach. The joys of being 18!


But it’s not all condoms and KY Jelly. Smith thinks he might have witnessed the murder of a girl who threw up on his shoe at a party. He’s keeps seeing figures wearing animal masks and he’s having weird dreams about people he never met before. With his 19th birthday approaching, he also receives a mysterious note saying that he is the chosen one.

Like with the Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy, Kaboom is a mystery which unfolds amidst the chaos and debauchery of its characters. Smith delves deeper to try and find out if there really was a murder or just the drugs messing with his head but at the same time it’s fascinating to watch Stella try and break up with the psychotic Lorelei. There are some real comedic touches here and Dekker is excellent in this role, his ambiguity is perfectly suited here. Apart from Kelly Lynch as Smith’s mother, Kaboom seems oddly void of star cameos as with previous Araki films.


Although references to Mel Gibson and Lady Gaga put it squarely in our present decade, there’s still something about Kaboom which made me feel the same as I did when watching The Doom Generation and Nowhere back in the 90’s. The dialogue is outrageous and unquotable as ever and there still that feeling that these characters are having the time of their lives, despite the fact that they might all be heading into oblivion, but if there’s anything I’ve learnt from Araki’s movies in the past 15 years, it’s exactly that. Party now because tomorrow it could all go Kaboom.

You might find the story somewhat sketchy in parts, especially with the final act where the plot points struggle to converge and find resolve, but overall Kaboom is quintessentially Araki, making what was the Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy now a Quadrilogy.

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