What do you get when you mix the psychological analysis of A Clockwork Orange with a Wes Anderson-like setting and and style? A roller coaster of a film that makes your stomach clench at the beginning and, by the end, makes you want to loop around to the end of the line to take the ride again. This is the accomplishment of Hooroo Jackson’s self-proclaimed “trip”, Aimy in a Cage.
Originally created as the graphic novel Aimy Micry by Hooroo Jackson, the film centers in on a creative but mentally unstable teenaged girl, Aimy Micry (played by Allisyn Ashley Arm), and the family that attempts to sculpt her into a normal, presentable young woman by any means necessary, taking a cue from the psychological theray present in A Clockwork Orange, complete with intense headgear. While this is going on outside Aimy’s home (where the entire film is shot), a plague is spreading through the planet, leading to martial law in the area the Micry home resides.
From the very beginning, the film has a light but foreboding stage presentation, much like what would come from a co-production between Wes Anderson and David Lynch, as Aimy dances through the opening credits as if a part of the opening song of a musical. This does more than just create a setting. It shows the innocence of Aimy before we see how crazy she is. This is important because most of the movie is a tornado of visuals and emotions that, if taken at face value, could annoy you in the first 15 minutes. I know I was. But after those first 15 minutes, you can’t help but enter the world of Aimy in a Cage on its own terms.
Through each interaction Aimy has with her family and acquaintances, you can’t help but feel sorry for Aimy. Sure, she’s crazy, but so is the rest of the people in her life. Her grandmother (played by Terry Moore) is demeaning tyrant. Her grandmother’s lover (played by Crispin Glover) is a two-faced snake. Her boyfriend (played by Michael William Hunter) seems to suffer from OCD. The Mosses have a daughter that seems like as much a psychopath as Heath Ledger’s interpretation of The Joker. Their own psychoses becomes more apparent as the plague makes the family as much a prisoner in the house as they have made Aimy in her own room and head.
By the end of the film, you can’t help but attach to Aimy, and not just because she seems to be the only one left. This has to be attributed to the 180 actress Allisyn Ashley Arm is able to accomplish. In the beginning of Aimy in a Cage, Arm seems typecasted as a slapstick actress whose most public work was on the Disney Channel. Even that odd casting seems to work, as the beginning of the film the similar mixing of satirical horror that the Knox family scenes of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers has. But Arm breaks that mold, and completes a role that is just as stunning and surprising as the film as a whole.
I give Aimy in a Cage 4 out of 5 Mad Hatters.
Aimy in a Cage comes to VOD on January 8th, 2016 with a Blu-ray release scheduled for April 1st.