Blu-ray Review: THE AGGRESSION SCALE

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Anchor Bay gives Steven C. Miller’s highly entertaining and briskly violent The Aggresssion Scale a brutally good looking Blu-ray release!


Specs:

  • Director: Steven C. Miller
  • Starring: Ray Wise, Dana Ashbrook, Derek Mears, Ryan Hartwig
  • Year: 2012
  • Runtime: 85 Minutes
  • Company: Anchor Bay
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Discs: 1
  • Video: 2.41:1 – 1080p
  • Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Region: A
  • Released: 5/29/2012

Film:

What happens when you put Home Alone, A History of Violence, Rambo and the home invasion genre into a blender and hit frappe? You get The Aggression Scale. A rough-around-the-edges, briskly paced independent film that’s both equally entertaining and ferociously violent. Where the entirety of the home invasion is darkly nihilistic with the targeted family always meeting a grisly end, The Aggression Scale seemingly looks to follow suit but mixes it up with the attackers becoming the victims at the hands of a would-be-victim, that just so happens to be a mildly disturbed and resourceful teenager with a penchant for violence.

The attackers are a group of hired guns assigned by Bellavance (Ray Wise), a crime boss out on bail that needs his stolen $500,000 back so he can skip town and avoid some serious jail time. Led by Lloyd (Dana Ashbrook), his team goes down the list hunting and killing anyone with a connection to the taken loot until they track down Bill (Boyd Kestner) and prepare to subject his family to their brand of ruthless interrogation. They didn’t count on Bill’s son Owen (Ryan Hartwig) to be an aggression prone delinquent that turns the tables on Lloyd and his men with a cat & mouse game of brutal revenge.

The Aggression Scale‘s premise alone had me pumped. I love the dreadful and dark tone of home invasion films, but having the roles reversed here leads to a serious amount of fun that harkens back to the blissful nature of 80′s flicks. Our hero is Owen, a mute pint-sized force to be reckoned with. Think of the wits of Kevin McCallister, the spirit of Rambo and the mannerisms of Michael Myers. Calculated, restrained and totally dangerous, Owen slyly preys upon the infiltrators through some seriously gruesome tactics that will have you cringing and cheering along.

Director Steven C. Miller truly does a bang up job of utilizing his minimal budget to make this look and feel like a top dollar outing. Just about everyone in the film owns their roles, particularly Ryan Hartwig as deranged super kid Owen & Derek Mears (Friday The 13th ’09) who steals every scene he’s in as a bumbling goon who’s reactions to Owen’s traps are hilarious. Sure a higher budget could have shined in their favor but it’s a great achievement to see The Aggression Scale work so well outside of the studio system. It’s a proverbial middle finger to Hollywood and continues to prove independent cinema can not only compete but surpass.


Blu-ray:

  •  Video

From the opening moments in a colorful suburban neighborhood to a secluded home in a darkened forest, it’s clear this is a damn good looking Blu-ray. For being a relatively low budget film, the production spared no expense in making this look sharp, detailed and studio financed. The cinematography is quite gorgeous and precise with a nice balance of vibrancy which leads to an equally gorgeous HD video transfer throughout.

  •  Audio

Only one audio option is included and the English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 get’s the job done. This mix is quite robust with a barrage of bass heavy scenes thanks to the films roaring percussion soundtrack. Some action beats lack that extra pounding oomph but it’s not an issue. Recommended to crank this up on your surround system for maximum audio carnage.


Bonus Features:

  •  Featurette – “The Making Of The Aggression Scale”

This 15 minute behind the scenes look consists of fly on the wall footage and cast/director/crew interviews mixed in with clips from the film. Everyone involved is really enthused about working with on another and genuinely had a blast making it.