Aggression Scale: (noun) A psychological test measuring the frequency of overt aggressive behaviors that may result in physical or psychological injury to others. What a cool and evocative title for a film, if I do say so myself. The first things that come into my mind are…aggression (duh) and violence (double duh). Anchor Bay is on a roll as they bring us this feature film by director Steven C. Miller. It made a big splash over at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival this past year, so I’m hoping that it will make a big splash on Blu-ray. I love the one tagline used on the back of the box by Indiewire.com – Like Home Alone, but with more death! Well you don’t have to tell me twice. This should be a neat romp.
The Aggression Scale is a neat little thriller about a mob boss named Bellavance (Ray Wise) who has been released on bail for a limited time. He’s organized a hit squad to kill every witness or person that has had any connection to him being locked behind bars. In addition to this he has lost $500,000 that he wants back by any means necessary. He also wants proof of death in a picture taken of the deceased target. It will serve as a reminder to anyone that crosses him.
We move on to the Rutledge family who are moving in to their dream home out in the middle of the countryside and far from the prying eyes of the city. Owen (Ryan Hartwig) and his step sister Lauren (Fabianne Therese) are teenagers, but do not get along, because she’s a bit too into herself too care about anyone but herself. She’s upset that she’s had to relocate to this new house on such short notice. Owen doesn’t say a word, because he’s obviously got emotional problems. He takes medication and is a mute, for the most part.
Once the hit squad sent out by Bellavance enters the quiet landscape of the property hell will be unleashed, but it won’t be by them. You see, young Owen has a history of documented violence. He’s a bit like McGuyever in that he’s ultra smart, absorbs knowledge, and uses anything and everything in the vicinity as a weapon. When the shit hits the fan, young Owen is unleashed!
I had small expectations going into The Aggression Scale, because I had not heard anything about it. I decided to review the film based on the cool title of the film alone. Boy, am I glad I did. I was never into the Home Alone movies, because the amount of damage those thugs received would have killed them many times over. Too slapstick. Let’s just say that The Aggression Scale is Home Alone on ACID. Yes, there will be blood. Buckets and buckets of crimson red.
Owen dispatches hitmen with stunning precision and no remorse. Dude is a killing a machine and not even old enough to drive, but pretty handy with an aluminum bat. The rest of the supporting cast is adequate – it’s always great to see Ray Wise (Robocop, Chillerama) amping it up as a bad guy.
The Aggression Scale is a bit of a “shake n’ bake” operation in that it doesn’t last long and gets the party started with the very first scene. In fact, it gets the party started with the opening credits that were somewhat reminiscent of Drive. I wonder if that was a coincidence or just perfect timing? Whatever it was, it fit the picture nicely. I give the film a slight above average rating, but not because it’s an awful film (far from it), but because of its running time. Yes, I’m a bit selfish and could have easily used an extra 20 minutes of more killing. I understand it’s a low budget film, but that’s how I feel about it. However, this does not mean that I hate the film or that I won’t recommend it. Far from it. I think this is another film from Anchor Bay that deserves to be seen by the masses.
The Aggression Scale is presented in 1080p, 2.40:1 widescreen. They didn’t skimp on this transfer, that’s for damn sure. The color palette is brilliant as the majority of the film takes place out in the country and woods near by. The scenery is lush and beautiful. The greens are extremely green as are the browns of the trees, and the red of the blood. Flesh tones also appear natural and supple, black levels never crush and remain deep and inky. Contrast levels also stay on the steady side. I did not detect instances of boosting or aliasing. Edge enhancement was not a problem a either. I’ll go ahead and reward The Aggression Scale a near reference rating in the video department. It’s a great looking film.
The Aggression Scale is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless surround sound. Here’s another exceptionally solid lossless track to a film one would not think deserves it upon first glance. Dialogue is centered, voices travel well throughout the sound field. This is great, because since everyone is running around chasing and being chased, it’s cool to actually understand what’s being said and shouted. Gunfire erupts in a realistic fashion and the LFE handles some of the low end effects (along with the occasional shot gun blast) nicely. Ambient tones are also handled well especially during the outside wilderness scenes. There’s a creek and one can hear the water traveling through the rear channels. This lossless presentation is solid all around.
As what seems to be a bit on the customary side, Anchor Bay has seen fit to not include worthy extras. We do get an interesting behind-the-scenes making of, but that’s it. This will lower the final score of the Blu-ray substantially.
- The Making of The Aggression Scale
The Aggression Scale was a whole hell lot of fun! I wish it were longer as it clocks in at just over 80 minutes without credits. Then again, that’s just the violence-gore hound in me talking. It does work as an effective thriller and we root for young Owen all the way through once he is “activated.” The Aggression Scale has cult-film status written all over it and what better way to discover the madness than with the Blu-ray. The technical specifications are rock solid, but the overall lack of special features drag the score down a bit. Still, the film needs to be seen by as many people as possible. Why? I’m anxious to see what Steven C. Miller can do with a real budget. Dude has potential.
Order The Aggression Scale on Blu-ray!