79 mins | Hooroo Jackson | (USA) | 2015
With lush cinematography and a challenging feminist infused narrative, Aimy in a Cage is unlike any other horror film in recent memory. While there are certainly traditional elements of the genre at play in the film (forced imprisonment, global plague), the narrative is less interested in creating a sense of impending doom and more focused on exploring how perceptions of sanity are dependent upon environment. The end result is a remarkable film that contextualizes adolescent female sexuality in a wholly original way.
Our entry into the story comes courtesy of comic style drawings through which each character is introduced without fanfare. Not only do these drawings set a stylistic tone for the film, but they are an effective callback to the graphic novel upon which the film is based. On the surface, the story is a simple one. Aimy, whose refusal to acquiesce to any of her family’s behavior modification demands, is deemed to be troubled and is forced to undergo a lobotomy of sorts to make her behavior more socially acceptable. Meanwhile, the Apollo Plague, a mysterious and deadly virus, begins to make the national news.
There is an unfair tendency of audiences to equate low budget with low production value but Aimy in a Cage shatters that myth with a visual flair that suggests a Hollywood style budget. Stylistically, the film is reminiscent of works by David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick in that the visuals serve to create a story parallel to the one verbalized on screen. Kubrick, in particular, appears to have been an influence on director Hooroo Jackson, not least in his framing of Aimy’s forced medical procedure: the scene instantly draws comparisons to Alex’s conversion therapy in Kubrick’s famed A Clockwork Orange.