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Blu-Ray Review: Aaaaaaaah! – “Frequently funny, but often bewildering”

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Steve Oram – writer, director and star of Sightseers – is again a triple threat in Aaaaaaaah!, which he also scripted, helms and takes the lead in. A very dark and very experimental comedy, Aaaaaaaah! sees Oram joined by The Mighty Boosh boys Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt, as well as Julian Rhind Tutt (Green Wing) and Toyah Wilcox (Secret Diary of a Call Girl).

In the world of Aaaaaaaah! human kind has reverted to its primal nature. Our environment remains the same but its inhabitants communicate via wordless grunting and exist within an ape-like social hierarchy. Oram plays Steve – an alpha male who intrudes upon an existing group with weird and violent consequences.

Steve and his beta pal (Tom Meeten – Burke & Hare) enter a flat, and after humiliating the family unit’s pre-existing alpha male, Ryan (Tutt), they spirit away his partner (Lucy Honigman). Ryan and his beta male pal recover and then give chase to confront the competition and retake their prized female. Surrounding the basic plot are nasty sexual punishments for shoplifting gone wrong, and a prolonged look at what a cookery programme would be like in a world like this. Spoiler alert: the chef would have her boobs out and cook a steak with far too much salt.

Aaaaaaaah! is an obviously and intentionally divisive film. It’s a challenging watch that teeters back and forth between being visionary and wank. It is odd, upsetting, dirty, awkward and frequently funny, but often bewildering. It is constantly awfully tempting to just turn it off, but it does provoke a deep curiosity to see what on earth will happen next and how – or if – it will come together. Half vaguely hypnotic and half unwatchable nonsense, Aaaaaaaah! is a deeply self-serving and insular piece – and an experiment that could also be used as a patience test.

The video quality is a little disappointing for a Blu-Ray. There would be plenty of room on the disc, and the film itself’s aspect ratio is 4×3, so the digital noise most evident in the extreme close-ups must be as source and introduced at the time of filming. Still. There are three audio tracks: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 stereo, and a feature commentary from Oram himself.

As well as his insightful commentary track, the extras package also includes the self explanatory “The Cast Speaks”, as well as longer looks at the film’s two television programmes: topless and salty cookery show “Carolla Cooks”, and the sitcom “PUB!”. The disc can be operated via English menus or brain-scramblingly in the film’s grunt speak – translated into menu options as a lot of capital “O”’s, backslashes and underscores. This option is fun at first, but quickly baffling and viewer ostracising – much like the actual film.

2.5-out-of-5

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