DVD Review: The Aggression Scale
Review by Stephanie Scaife
I was slightly apprehensive going into The Aggression Scale, a straight-to-video production directed by Steven C. Miller whose earlier film Scream of the Banshee was, to be blunt, crap. However I was pleasantly surprised by this low budget thriller that is, as many others have noted, like an R-rated Home Alone.
Bellavance (Ray Wise) is a local mob boss out on bail for murder who plans to flee the country with $500,000 that he has stashed away. Lo and behold however, the money is gone and Bellavance gets together his toughest men, led by Lloyd (Dana Ashbrook) and Chissolm (Derek Mears, on fine form) to hunt down the thief and retrieve his money via any means necessary. As is often the case when a straight-to-DVD screener comes through the mail, you sigh and hope for something that is at the very least watchable (which is often not the case) and to my surprise The Aggression Scale hooked me in from the very opening scene which is, to be fair, pretty much just 10 minutes of unrelenting violence as Bellavance’s men take out those who could be responsible for the robbery.
Then we are introduced to the Rutledges, a newly married couple each with disgruntled, misfit teenager in tow, as they move into their palatial new home. Now, do you think it could it possibly be the stolen money responsible for their move up in the world? Lloyd and his guys certainly think so. What they didn’t take into consideration though was Owen (Ryan Hartwig) and Lauren (Fabianne Therese), the unusual children of our suspected thieves, who give these guys a serious run for their money in a deadly game of cat and mouse. For a 15 certificate there is still a decent amount of gore and some particularly inventive injuries and death scenes, highlighting some decent make-up and effects work in what is clearly a low budget feature.
The Aggression Scale isn’t going to win any awards anytime soon and I doubt that it warrants repeat viewings, but it looks great and for what it is I found it highly watchable and at moments actually quite tense. I have a feeling that it will definitely find its audience on DVD through word of mouth and quite rightly so. Hartwig in particular is very good as the mute, sociopathic, mini-MacGyver and Ashbrook gives an intense performance as the calm and collected hit man Lloyd; and yes he’s Bobby from Twin Peaks, before you spend 20 minutes thinking you know him from somewhere, as I did.
Yes there are flaws, including some dumbass character decisions and a few plot holes that it’s best not to think about too closely, but overall you could do a lot worse than The Aggression Scale, which is a more than competent thriller/home invasion movie. I’m now very intrigued to see what Miller will do with his upcoming remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night.
The Aggression Scale is available on Blu-ray and DVD now, from Momentum.