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.
Aaaaaaaah! is a masterpiece. It’s grotesque, offensive, ugly cinema. It’s a student film on a budget. It’s a joyous celebration of cinema. It’s puerile, lowest common denominator. It’s transgressive, impossible, joyous filmmaking.
Tom Meeten wipes piss off Steve Oram’s penis, a seemingly innocuous store clerk douses a photo of Prince Harry in cum, Julian Barrett carries a Battenberg around with him for no apparent reason. There is no dialogue, only ape-ish grunts. Quite rightly, the film won’t be for everyone, viewing it is an isolating experience, of which a break half way through is rightly deserved. Yet there is more to it than simply a bunch of mates deciding to make a film.
For the most part, it’s a film of crude jokes – Toyah Wilcox taking a break from cooking a meal to shit on the floor – but as the film unfolds, it reveals itself as a study of male power and personal loss. Female characters are almost exclusively relegated to the kitchen, or as sexual figures within the bedroom while male characters are shown as hostile, awaiting the next. In the hands of a less assured director, this would come off as heavy handed yet Oram – with whom this is his first directorial feature – shows the confidence of a far more experienced filmmaker.
If released during the peak of the Dogme 95’ movement, maybe Aaaaaaaah! would be easier to swallow. It’s a grim, isolating experience of which very few directors can pull of without it being coming off as if a joke on the audience. The cast have total faith in Oram and in doing so, it never feels as if the rug is about to be pulled from the audiences feet, revealing a practice joke. Take the always brilliant Julian Barrett who has to carry a Battenberg around with him throughout the entire film, or Noel Fielding, who has his cock bitten off.
As evident in this review, it’s a truly hard sell. Thankfully, it’s really, really funny, like a Monty python sketch spread over 90 minutes. Few films this year have made me laugh more than Aaaaaaaah!, in particular a sequence involving a game of football that never had any right to be as truly funny as it is. Any moment of joy is paired with a sequence of immense sadness-in which Julian Barrett is most often apparent-and in doing so, it’s a crushing experience. The type of film that demands the viewer to have a wash, or a long contemplative walk after the film finishes. Steve Oram, always the other guy, has shows himself as a real talent.
Aaaaaaaah! is a masterpiece of the macabre, the absurd, of pure un-adulterated cinema. It’s a joyous, upsetting, isolating experience. It’s offensive, it’s hateful, it’s something truly special. It’s nothing less that joyous, impossible filmmaking.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★