In a post-apocalyptic future mankind is lives in a prehistoric manner. After killing his father for sexually assaulting his girlfriend, the son of a tribal leader runs away with a group of his teenage friends. They are taken in by Neil and Judith who introduce them to the vices outlawed by their tribes namely sex and drugs. Neil and Judith, however, are genetically altered indestructible mutants who have their own plans for the future of the human race.
Directed by: Larry Clark
. Starring: Andrew Keegan
, Tara Subkoff
, Richard Hillman
, Tiffany Limos
, Stephen Jasso
, Crystal Celeste Grant
, Shan Elliot
, Hayley Keenan
, Paul Hipp
, David Stifel
, Rob Hill
, David Monzingo
, Joe Reader
. Music by: Zoë Poledouris
Watching Larry Clark's Teenage Caveman, I felt as if I was being Punk'd, especially when one character tells another she looks like "she's in a bad B-movie." Clark has made a career out of being subversive and downright wild behind the camera, capturing adolescent debauchery and lawless behavior amongst youth with a frightening authenticity, mainly because Clark's own adolescent was dominated by intimate photography and heavy drug use.
By the time Teenage Caveman was made, Clark had developed a name for himself with his shocking film Kids, his solid sophomore effort Another Day in Paradise, and his brutally honest Bully, released a year prior. I'd say he was on a role, with one strong film after another at the time. With Clark's already established filmography, I can only assume and guess why he wanted to dive into the often doomed realm of modern odes to campy science- fiction pictures of yesteryear.
The story exists in a post-apocalyptic world where a great deal of humanity has been erased thanks to a viral epidemic. The few remaining souls have resorted to tribalism in the regard that they gather in packs and rely on basic human instinct to get by, as if their common sense, morality, and values have all been extracted along with the epidemic.
A group of survivors, all teens, soon come in contact with two people who have been genetically altered and modified in order to combat the epidemic and now reside in a city reliant off of solar power. They have their own vision of humanity, although we never really grasp what that may be. The two groups collide and what ensues is pure madness as each try to assert dominance as well as go about their own agendas.
The teens have virtually no personality, so to name them is a worthless exercise. The film, if it should be remembered as anything besides what seems to be a go- for-broke filmmaking attempt by Clark, should be seen as a solid showcase for talents of Richard Hillman, who plays one of the genetically-altered humans. Hillman handles this offbeat character effectively, that is, until emotions rings true in the last act. Up until then, however, he is great fun to watch and his frantic acting talents are a rarity that are nice to see unfold before us.
Other than Hillman, nobody else shines, particularly because their characters are so thinly written. But even that is a non- issue compared to the fact that the film is just terribly uninteresting. Clark tries to infuse the story with the coldness of teen sex and relations and it's a move that is more fun to comment on than actually watch. The futuristic setting, especially in the context of a viral epidemic and mutant forces, just doesn't make for an interesting time period on sex and adolescent bonding.
It seems that beneath the rubbish, Clark had the idea of making this film one that would potentially see sex in the future as an action robbed of its intentional purpose - to produce love and pleasure. An overarching theme in Clark's filmography is the loss of meaningful sex, and here, the meaning is muddled to the point where sex means as much as a spur-of-the-moment kiss or hug but with even less sentiment and passion.
With this idea as my only justification for the material at hand, Clark seems to be going for some attempt at commentary lodged firmly inside a story that acts as an homage to the corny, ultra-low- budget science-fiction films from the thirties, forties, and fifties. I admire the courage and the subversiveness completely but, in the end, I sigh at the result. Teenage Caveman will forever be etched in Clark's filmography, replacing another film potentially having a great amount of insight and braver filmmaking.
Starring: Richard Hillman, Tiffany Limos, Andrew Keegan, Tara Subkoff, and Stephen Jasso.
Review by Steve Pulaski from the Internet Movie Database.