Nowhere (1997) follows Totally F***ed Up (1993) and The Doom Generation (1995) as the third and final instalment in renegade filmmaker Gregg Araki’s Teenage Apocalypse trilogy. Jam-packed full of rampant, libidinous teens that exist in a multicultural, pop art, dystopian fantasy, watching Nowhere is what might happen were you to read Naked Lunch before bed. Araki’s muse James Duval is at the centre of the action, his character Dark Smith the embodiment of the apocalypse. He edits tapes in an attempt to control his life, whilst his bisexual girlfriend, Mel (Rachel True), simply can’t commit to him.
This lack of commitment sees Dark’s mind become a mass of bubbling confusion, especially after meeting Montgomery (Nathan Bexton). The theme of alienation follows Dark like a heavy cloud, eventually taking on literal form in a scene involving a ghastly explosion that would make undoubtedly have made Franz Kafka proud. Various interconnected sup-plots constantly evolve in varying degrees of bad taste as Nowhere sways constantly between notions of sexuality, love and death – sometimes all at once. The cast is thick and creamy, full to bursting with ex-teen idols and squeaky clean US TV stars that are more than willing to dip their toes in the subversive dirt – Harmony Korine clearly took notes for his recent film Spring Breakers.
Former pop star Jeremy Jordan plays Bart, a hip and super-cool band member who becomes embroiled in a self-destructive relationship with a dominatrix duo. Elsewhere, Traci Lords, Shannon Doherty and Rose McGowan play a trio of Valley chicks who vomit mindless teen vernacular in a memorable cameo that leaves them reduced to three burning sets of braces. The bravest and most peculiar of all performances, however, comes from ex-Baywatch star Jaason Simmons, who surprisingly plays himself. He bemoans his fame, lures a fan into his lair and then savagely rapes and beats her, ultimately driving her to an excessively graphic suicide.
Rape scene aside, Nowhere is stunningly beautiful to watch. There’s not one frame that hasn’t been intricately stylised. Araki brings his trilogy to a head in a bundle of celluloid confusion that encapsulates nihilistic teenage mentality and delivers an expressionistic banquet for your eyes to devour (and your brain to decipher). It’s a wild, enjoyable teenage riot. Duval, as always, is an excellent lead and successfully leads the cast towards the heady climax. This is how the world ends – not with a bang, but with a bright and effervescent ‘pop’.