“Buy the ticket, take the ride” Hunter Thompson told us in his iconic novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and that is exactly what you have to do with Hooroo Jackson’s Aimy in the Cage, an hallucinogenic horror movie about an oncoming plague and mental illness.
You likely won’t have heard of the film’s director Hooroo Jackson, this is debut feature and is rather a bold one at that. Inspired clearly by the works of Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson and David Lynch Aimy in a Cage is the story of a young creative girl whose family believe her to have some sort of mental illness. Due to this she is subjected to some work Clockwork Orange inspired therapy to help her become a more functioning member of society. On top of all of this there is an epidemic spreading in the outside world that is threatening to kill all of those affected by it.
Outlining the plot of Aimy in a Cage is simple enough but pinpointing exactly what the movie is about is another matter altogether. It’s a very unique, combining a pastel coloured cartoon world with David Lynch inspired dread whilst also exploring several important issues like the nature of mental illness and perhaps how even how we as a society perceive it. It’s a maddening film, one that at times perhaps treads that fine line between quirky and irksome a little too much but it also a rewarding one.
Whether you like Aimy in a Cage or not will depend entirely on how willing you are to go with the movie’s weirdness. Hooroo here is clearly committed to his vision- a type of creative chaos that can be both hypnotic and frustrating, often both in the same scene.
On top of all of this insanity there is the performances- Allisyn Ashley Arm takes on the lead role as Aimy and whilst she starts the movie as something of a bratty, irritating protagonist but as her plight begins you can’t help but sympathise with her, especially in the movie’s closing stages when she is subjected to all kinds of psychological horror. Indie horror darling Paz de la Heurta is as wonderfully camp as ever whilst Crispin Glover is delightful, fully embracing the wacky tone of the movie. Like the direction the performances are wacky and spirited and it’s difficult not to have fun with them.
The biggest credit here though must go to Chloe Barcelou- the movies production and costume designer. The delightful colour palette of the movie only adds to the slow building dread that surrounds the chaos. The claustrophobic feel of the movie is juxtaposed by it’s weird and wonderful misc en scene, making Aimy in a Cage one of the more interesting indie hits of the year so far.
Aimy in a Cage is not going to be to everybody’s tastes. It’s weird and wonderful but equally it’s frustrating and difficult. It’s a film that will likely reward several rewatches. Hooroo Jackson has a clearly creative vision here and love it or hate it you can’t help but admire his persistence.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Aimy on a Cage is available on VOD services