The Doom Generation, 1995.
Directed by Gregg Araki.
Starring James Duval, Rose McGowan and Johnathon Schaech.
Two troubled teens and an adolescent drifter embark on a sex and violence-fuelled journey across America.
When future historians look back to cinema to see what people of the past were like, I really hope they don’t stumble upon The Doom Generation when looking to discover about the youth of the 90s.
The Doom Generation is a “heterosexual movie” (their words, not mine) written and directed by Gregg Araki and was the second part of his ‘Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy’. He describes the film in interviews as his 'Nine Inch Nails' movie – something he had to write because he was angry with the world and everything about it.
Rose McGowan (in her first big movie role) and James Duvall (who featured in all three parts of the Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy) star as Amy Blue and Jordan White, two Generation X-ers who pick up 21 year old drifter Xavier Red (Johnathan Schaech) after he gets attacked in a parking lot brawl. The two teen’s lives are then turned upside down after Xavier kills a convenience store clerk and drags them on a road trip across the country.
At the time of release, The Doom Generation was compared (favourably and unfavourably) to Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers and it’s pretty obvious why. Both films are essentially about troubled souls travel across America killing people because they hate the world while using a lot of very colourful language. While it may be a fair comparison, I don’t think that The Doom Generation carries any of the class that Natural Born Killers had.
Araki has managed to create three of the most unlikeable characters to ever lead a movie. Jordan spends the entire movie spaced out and stoned (and apparently James Duvall spent the majority of the production stoned) so this means his dialogue consists mainly of “huh?” or “what?” which can be quiet annoying. Xavier is just a miserable existence and Amy spends the entire movie spouting awful dialogue that is littered with unnecessary foul language.
If you have a weak disposition for blood, sex and bad language, you would do well to steer clear of The Doom Generation. The entire movie follows these three teenagers as they kill someone in one scene and then sleep with each other in the next – more often than not with the third member pleasuring himself while watching. It is just a terrible representation of the 90s Generation X. If The Doom Generation is to be believed, they were just a load of over-drugged, over-sexed and under-worked angry souls with no redeeming qualities. Films that handled these subject matters better (like Natural Born Killers and Trainspotting) have stood the test of time and give a well thought out portrayal of a generation, whereas this is a bad foot note on the 90s indie film scene which does nothing but provide ammunition for those who have negative feelings towards the Generation X-ers of the 1990s.
But the worst offending part of The Doom Generation is that the film that has no point. And I don’t mean that as a sentence to back up my earlier criticisms, I mean that this has no plot progression or story arc. Gregg Araki sets up a lot of sub-plots to move the main plot forward but none of them ever really lead to anything or give us any resolutions. In every place the trio stop in, Amy is accused of being someone else by locals as someone they used to date / sleep with who had their heart broken by her. This usually ends up with someone dying and them running away, but we’re never given a conclusion as to why she keeps getting accused of these things. On top of that, there is a scene around the halfway point of the movie that introduces some police characters who are looking into these murders, but these characters are never spoken about or seen again after this scene, which makes them completely redundant and pointless. The film never really gets going and just feels like an excuse to have young adults swearing and having very graphic promiscuous sex.
The Doom Generation is a mess of a movie with nothing of value. All the characters are horrible, the dialogue is horrendous and above all it is unnecessarily grotesque. I could have happily gone through life without having seen James Duvall’s arsecrack and ballbag and I certainly could have gone decades of happy years not watching Johnathan Schaech eating semen. The film may have a cult following, but for me it’s a complete waste of time.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film * / Movie *
Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.