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DVD Review: The Doom Generation: Unrated Director's Cut
Posted by O. R. Polk, Jr. on Oct 11, 2002, 14:28

The Doom Generation: Uncensored Directorís Cut

Written and directed by Gregg Araki

Released by TriMark Home Video

Starring Rose McGowan, James Duval and Johnathon Schaech

Unrated, 83 min.


"God is dead", declares Trent Reznor as NIN blares over the din of the throngs of goth-punk teenagers crowding a nightclub in L.A. The camera then pans over to our female lead, Amy Blue. Her raven-black bangs and blood-red lips providing a stark contrast against her eggshell-white skin, Amy utters one simple word directly at the screen: Fuck.

And this sets the tone for The Doom Generation, a "heterosexual" movie and first reasonably-budgeted effort from Asian auteur, Gregg Araki. The irony in this self-imposed tag line for the film is that Araki is not straight, but indeed very openly homosexual and dresses more like one of the kids you see hanging out at your local mallís Hot Topic chain than a Hollywood director. Gregg even sports an NRA-style bullseye tattoo on his shoulder, making himself a "target" for those who wish to eradicate his kind. The Doom Generation is the second installment in what Araki has dubbed his "Teen Apocalypse" trilogy.

Araki has a great affinity (some would call it a fascination or obsession) for teenagers. So those of you who enjoyed the John Hughes films of the eighties but only wished they had a little more bite, will thoroughly appreciate the angst-ridden and surreal visions of Arakiís The Doom Generation.

The three main characters in Doom speak volumes about an age group that the media has termed Generation X; the selfish, cynical and pessimistic twenty-something skeptics who were, for the most part, failed by our parents. The products of Reaganomics, we were latch-key kids, taught the majority of our morals from after-school specials and the cartoons we hold so dear. Our generation may be materialistic, disrespectful and always at odds with authority, but at least are honest with ourselves about our shortcomings.

"We were all brought up to believe that one day weíd all grow up to movie gods and rock stars. But we wonít. And weíre slowly finding that out. And weíre very, very pissed off." - Tyler Durden, Fight Club

On the plus side, at least our hands-off and emotionally deficient upbringing made us smarter and more resourceful than our predecessors. And perhaps that will make the difference when the time comes for us to care for the largest amount of senior citizens that this or any other generation has ever seen. And of course, they donít have much faith in us that weíll be able to do that, either.

Youíll have to excuse me for going off on that tangent, but it is necessary that you understand the bleak world outlook and type of emotionally fractured characters that drive this Doom Generation vehicle forward. On the surface, it is easy to dismiss this as yet another twisted indie film, chock full of pop culture references and an intense, trendy soundtrack. But that would also describe Mallrats, and a work of Kevin Smith this is not. At itís heart, itís a story about the search for a pure and true love. Our generation just happens to go about that quest in a decidedly different fashion than ever previously captured on film.

The Movie:

Doom begins innocently enough. Amy (played with uninhibited decadence by Rose McGowan) and her boyfriend of three whole months, Jordan White (a beautiful and pouty-lipped James Duval), decide to leave a party to go have sex for the "first time" in Amyís car at an abandoned drive-in. I place "first time" within quotation marks because, while Jordan seems truly as virginal as the new fallen snow, we begin to get the impression as the film progresses that Amy isnít exactly a novice at anything, much less coitus.

Unfortunately for them, Amy and Jordanís tryst is cut short when a tussle ensues on the hood of Amyís car. Amy and Jordan manage to gather their composure (and their clothes) in time to peel off, but not before one of the bloody participants of the brawl wriggles his way inside the vehicle. He introduces himself as Xavier (magazine model-sexy Johnathon Schaech) and immediately proceeds to rub Amy the wrong way. After exchanging a few choice words, Xavier Red soon finds himself walking. Xavier doesnít give up on our young couple, however, and ends up saving their lives when they have another chance meeting at a convenience store later. But in the act of saving their lives, the convenience store clerk (cartoonishly) ends up losing his head. This bit of business earns X (who sure enough represents the unknown) a permanent spot in Amyís car and the three decide to lamb it for a while, until the heat from the convenience store murder dies down. What happens from there is a weird road movie and accidental crime spree with hot sex and brutal violence at every stop as X slithers his way into Amy and Jordanís relationship. Instead of conflict or a scandalous love triangle emerging, what we get is an omni-sexual and homoerotic three-way relationship that blurs the lines of most conventional relationships all to hell.

To compound their problems, it seems our "virgin" Amy isnít as innocent as she claims to be. At every stop, Amy is recognized by other gals and guys who claim to know her by different names. She, of course, denies it, and like Jordan, weíre left wondering whom to believe. By this point, weíve seen on numerous occasions that Amy isnít all that she says she is. Amyís deceptive ways soon get the trio into some trouble that even their newfound savior and sexual instigator, X, canít get them out of, leading to a climax that will leave you shocked, (and possibly disgusted) to say the very least. In a film where the central themes are adolescent turmoil and teenage sexual evolution, the world itself plays the antagonist as it swallows these confused and angry youths whole in a vacuum of harsh and nightmarish reality.

The DVD:

Pretty bare bones disc, folks. The movieís in full-frame and the sound is 2.0 Dolby Surround; no neat bells & whistles here. There is a little cast info and a couple of trailers for other TriMark releases, but thatís it. Which is a shame because I wouldíve loved to have had an Araki commentary track or one with him and the cast.

IMO:

See it. Rent it, buy it or steal it. Now. I know I painted a pretty grim picture of what this movie is like and about, but trust me, itís just as humorous as it is shock-inducing. Rose McGowan is an absolute hoot as Amy Blue who has a unique array of side-splitting insults for anyone who crosses her path. Amy Blueís slang is not unlike the slanguage youíve heard used on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or in Heathers, albeit with a ton of curses included. Every time she parts those sanguine soup coolers an endless stream of f-bombs and other not-so-niceties tumble out effortlessly like so much water from a leaky faucet. How can you not love her? And itís Roseís performance and her characterís actions that everything else in this movie revolves around. After seeing this, I thought Rose was destined for "real" fame, not being Marilyn Mansonís ex-girlfriend or a replacement on the WBís Charmed. If nothing else, you will enjoy the young, attractive cast and seeing how many celebrity cameos you can spot. And believe me, there are many, from Margaret Cho, to Heidi Fleiss to Peter from The Brady Bunch.

The Doom Generation may not be an ultraviolent road movie that will be remembered when flicks like True Romance or Natural Born Killers are mentioned, but it has a firmer grip on the genre than say, Mad Love, or the glut of other "teen" films that have been released in the past few years. The cringe-worthy moments, laughs and sex definitely come at you a mile a minute, but not in a deliberate parody sort of way, like Scary Movie. (a movie that is a prime example of Hollywood's creative bankruptcy; a movie that is a spoof of a movie that was already a smart parody. Scary Movie is everything but smart, which I guess is why it was such a hit) This isnít a comedy by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, if anything, it probably has more in common with A Clockwork Orange than some Scream spoof or any other idea that some 50 year-old Hollywood exec thinks is "hip" or "cool".

So in short, I would recommend that you take a trip with our three wounded souls, the hilarious Amy Blue, the innocent Jordan White and the mysterious Xavier Red. While they travel from place to place and sex it up from one hotel room to the next, youíll soon realize that their journey and yours, is just as metaphorical as it physical. But the destination still remains unknown.

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