Steve Oram’s directorial feature debut is the outstanding Aaaaaaaah!, a film that admittedly is not for everyone but that is really okay. Part comedy, part thriller, mostly surreal and somewhat scary at the same time, Aaaaaaaah! is the story of us but not as we are. A comedy about patriarchal society, relationships and living in the 21st century – a satire if you will on the everyday, the mundane and sometimes the extraordinary. But what makes Aaaaaaaah! so enjoyable, so curious, urgent and a sure fire cult success? All the dialogue is monkey noises, no human speech and quite often the movements, attitudes and behaviours of a monkey as well. But, yes, in human form.
Yet despite the initial shock of hearing fully grown men and women (and they are familiar faces at that including Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Alice Lowe, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Toyah Willcox) making odd animals noises, humping kitchen counters, teabagging (look up if necessary but not at work) each other and wanking over a picture of Prince Harry, it all comes together and makes complete sense.
Aaaaaaaah! tells a number of stories that overlap with one another; the usurped alpha male of the house now lives outside in the garden and is handed, when no one is looking, Battenberg cake (quite possibly the most beautiful use of cake on film), the girls out for a shop and trying to see how far they can push the rules of society, the sparring lovers for the attention of a woman and all the other various people that makes up the lives of these characters.
Overall, the film does deal with some interesting themes of men and women in society – it looks at their roles and the ways in which they treat each other. Interestingly, whilst many of the things they do in the film have an animal like way about them and could be seen as unrealistic ways for a human to act, at their core, these actions are often the same and it’s scary that Oram has managed to so succinctly break down our own ways and behaviours of life. He is making a larger comment around the ways that each gender deals with their lot and with each other – it’s really quite fascinating.
Aaaaaaaah! is hilarious as well, which is partly down to the brilliant performances from the entire cast as well as the script (yes, even in monkey speak). The ways that the characters interact with one another is what makes the film work so well and the chemistry between the entire cast clearly created an environment on set that made it comfortable to experiment like this. All in all Aaaaaaaah! is one of the very best pieces of experimental cinema to have come out in ages, in a way it is very British and is perfectly balances genres and emotions throughout.
This Blu-ray also contains three brilliant extra features including ‘Carolla Cooks’ (a hilarious extended cooking show that is seen at the start of the film), ‘PUB!’ (an extended sitcom that the characters watch in the film starring Alice Lowe and Tony Way – it’s so strange that it deserves to be seen) and a great featurette chatting with some of the cast about how they became attached to the project and what it was like to film.