Written and directed by Steve Oram
Starring Steve Oram, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Lucy Honigman, Tom Meeten, Toyah Wilcox, Julian Baratt, Noel Fielding, Alice Lowe, Tony Way
Alpha Male Smith and his Beta, Keith, move to take over a local community. They hook up with restless Female, Denise, igniting a deadly feud in which emotions run high and deep-seated grudges resurface amongst the tribe.
Reviewing a movie like Aaaaaaaah! is almost impossible. I mean, where do you begin? It’s like a student arthouse movie made in their final year, only this was produced by grown adults who should know better. But on the flipside, there is something inherently genius about Steve Oram’s directorial debut that makes you take a step back and appreciate its art.
Let’s try and distil what Aaaaaaaah! is about. Set in a alternative present-day world, the humans in Aaaaaaaah! have evolved to the point of creating technology and wearing clothes, but have not formed speech beyond our primate ancestors. Nor have we moved on from our ‘tribe mentality’ or ability to hold back sexual desire and declaration. In this strange and bizarre world, a couple of males head into a new town where they stumble upon a troubled tribe. With alpha male Smith impressing troubled female Denise at a house party by marking his territory and making a fool of their alpha male, they run off into the wild to start a new life together. However, the disrespected alpha of the tribe is not happy, and sets out to get revenge.
Aaaaaaaah! reminds of a time when the majority of low-budget horror movies were discovered in tape trading through fanzines. It feels like it was shot by a group of friends on their Dad’s video camera and edited on two VHS players with literally no money spent on its production. In fact it feels like the only money that was spent on the movie was replacing all of the items they break in the ensuing madness. It gives the movie a unique charm not found in modern horror and Oram’s editing, design and sound-mixing feels like it came right from the house of Troma.
And despite the lack of dialogue in the movie (everyone communicates through grunts, groans and gargles), you can easily follow along with the movie’s plot and characters. You have to give a lot of credit to the actors for diving head-first into this bonkers production, but it is a testament to how good everyone is that Aaaaaaaah! is so easy to digest.
Where Aaaaaaaah! falls down perhaps is in its execution. It’s hard to really place a finger on whether Aaaaaaaah! is trying to be an arthouse movie making a point, or poking fun at arthouse movies that try to make a point. It is intentionally hilarious at times, but there are other moments that produce laughter that you wonder was actually meant to provoke thought. It makes social commentary statements about lazily-produced sitcom humour and our infatuation with easy-to-digest video games with gimmicky peripherals, but then there is a scene where a man’s penis is bitten off. Aaaaaaaah! makes a big point about the lack of control men have around women (a very topical statement in today’s age) by exaggerating what some men consider to be “banter” and sexual release (or lack thereof in one case), but sometimes it does it to the point of parody. No doubt there will be some film snobs out there who will find hidden meanings in the movie, and perhaps they’re there to be found. But it’s so unclear of what Oram was trying to accomplish with the movie.
Aaaaaaaah! is a bizarre choice for a directorial debut, but I can guarantee, hand on heart, you have never seen a film like this in your life. And more likely, you never will either. Due to its incredibly bonkers nature, Aaaaaaaah! is destined to become a cult classic in the same vein as Pink Flamingos, but it won’t appease anyone. It will be very interesting to see the reaction to the movie coming off the back of its debut at FrightFest, that’s for damn sure.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.
Aaaaaaaah! is having a special Q&A screening at The Picture House Central, tickets can be purchased here.