CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
New Queer Cinema (which is what Wikipedia calls it, and if it's good enough for them it's good enough for me) is, I'll freely admit, one of the numerous areas of cinema about which I'm not even faintly knowledgeable. And to be honest, the latest Gregg Araki film would probably have passed me by entirely if it hadn't been included in, and then noisily withdrawn from, the lineup for FrightFest 2010. Frankly I wasn't massively bothered about the loss at the time, and having seen it I'm slightly relieved that it slipped through the cracks. Certainly it would have lightened the mood a little during a grimmer than usual festival, as it would have played between the dull Mexican cannibalism drama We Are What We Are and the Ryan Reynolds coffin movie Buried (itself a replacement for the stop-laughing-at-the-back horrors of A Serbian Film).
Kaboom is actually two movies bundled uneasily together: a campus drama about horny teens exploring and enjoying their sexuality spliced with a half-hearted and frankly nonsensical conspiracy thriller that's topped with a stupid ending. Smith (Thomas Dekker) is a sexually "undeclared" student with gay fantasies about his straight surfer dude roommate Thor. He meets a girl called London (Juno Temple) at a party who's only really interested in sex; meanwhile his best friend Stella (Haley Bennett) hooks up with a lesbian witch who has supernatural powers. Smith also decides to visit a nude beach and is picked up by a middle-aged guy. Also, creepy guys in animal masks are stalking and abducting people. Is Smith the Chosen Son? Oh, there's also the mystery of a murdered girl who once threw up on Smith's shoes, a drug dealer who isn't really a drug dealer and a cult of New World Order nutjobs seeking to destroy the Earth for no good reason.
Sticking to either story - the sex one or the conspiracy one - would have been better than having them both awkwardly fused to each other. With its hunky, sculpted guys, cute and uninhibited girls, its casual sex and nudity (though not explicit, given the 15 certificate) and regular bouts of man-on-man, man-on-woman, woman-on-woman and man-and-woman-on-man action, it's pretty much covering everyone's bases except for horse and granny fetishists - and it's kind of entertaining. And the crazy paranoid conspiracy theory stuff may be entirely illogical and silly, but it's also kind of entertaining.
It's certainly not boring, it's nicely shot, and unless you're a perpetually foaming bigot it's entirely inoffensive and unobjectionable. In places Kaboom feels a bit like Society - dude discovers his whole life is a fiction and unseen sinister forces are at work to ensure he fulfils his destiny, though with gay and bi sex scenes rather than mutant slime orgies. At other times it seems to have a Donnie Darko cult indie vibe about it (and I'm no fan of Donnie Darko). I actually came away from the film with the immediate response that it was absolute toss, and while it looks better the morning after, it's not that much better.