Released today on DVD is Gregg Araki's 1995 teenage road movie The Doom Generation starring Rose McGowan, James Duval and Jonathon Schaech.
Following in the footsteps of Natural Born Killers and Kalifornia, the film follows would be femme fatale Amy Blue (McGowan) with her doe-eyed boyfriend Jordan White (Duval), who get wound up with a psychopath Xavier Red (Schaech), who kills people and end up as accomplices on a road trip from hell across the Californian state highways.
Araki, is a huge film fan, but a director who in spite of his ability has never had the huge crossover hit, and watching this film you can see why. Araki sometimes has too many ideas going on at one time, or he has too many influences running through his head and the wish to embrace and appraise said influences sometimes does a disservice to the film as a whole.
Not to say it is bad for end of the millenium directors to have influences, yet Araki does join Tarantino and Eli Roth as directors who cut and paste films based on their film viewing without having a distinctive authorial voice. Whilst Tarantino has the uncanny ability to whip out five pages of memorable dialogue, this foregoes the lack of visual flair; and Roth falls back on the ability of shock and awe to enhance his failure to write good dialogue.
Araki has the ability to have his finger on the pulse of an ever-changing youth culture; when we first encounter Jordan and Amy it is whilst Jordan is in a moshpit and Amy is telling some guy to f off who asks her for some drugs.
Yet you never get the impression that these drifters are apparently drifting, or they will eventually drift back to normality once Xavier is out of their lives. Araki's penchant for a mixture of sexual exploration for the characters, combined with a healthy dose of gore does go hand in hand - in recent films post-Millenium, Araki has explored the notion of sexual politics in the youth culture from both hetero- and homosexual stances, as he did in Kaboom (2010).
This does not make the film Doom Generation, a bad one there are enough to keep you interested and it does have some great set pieces of violence in the vein of Stone's masterpiece, Natural Born Killers, yet it is very much a case of a director trying to do too much in a very short space of time. Whereas those killers were very violent and knew that they were inherently evil, these ones are a little too reflexive and unaware of their actions.
The Doom Generation is out today from Second Sight Films courtesy of Aim Publicity