The Aggression Scale is like Home Alone on crack. Audiences will be on the edge of their seats for this unique take on home invasions from start to finish. The film premiered to a ton of buzz at this years SXSW Film Festival. Home audiences will be able to experience this intense film on May 29. Directed by Steven C. Miller (Scream of the Banshee), the film stars Dana Ashbrook (Twin Peaks), Derek Mears (Friday the 13th, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Reaper), Ryan Hartwig, and Fabianne Therese.
In the film, recently paroled mob boss Bellavance (Wise) realizes that $500,000 has gone missing from his accounts. In order to get the money back he sends a crew of vicious hit men (Ashbrook and Mears) to find the thieves and kill them. His only rule is to make the killings “loud and messy”. When the crew arrives at the new home of the Rutledge family they get a bit more than they bargained for. Instead of finding the money and a weak family, the gang encounters Owen (Hartwig) and his sister Lauren (Therese) and things don't go as planned.
Miller has really made a name for himself with genre films since graduating from Full Sail University. He is currently directing a remake of Silent Night, which I am excited to see. His pacing and intensity reminds me of a young Quentin Tarantino. The amount of blood and gore is just perfect, and is not overdone. He really did a great job of getting the most of his actors, and did a wonderful job of picking a solid cast.
Ashbrook was almost unrecognizable with facial hair, but his on screen presence is unmistakable. I have been a fan of Ashbrook's since Twin Peaks and some of the horror films he did when he was younger. I am glad to see him working and would like to see more of him on the big screen. The same can be said for Mears, but then what would you expect with someone that looms over the rest of the cast. Both of them did a great job of adding comedic moments to break up the tension in the film. I would like to see him play a lead in a comedic action film.
The true standouts of the cast are relative newcomers Hartwig (Owen) and Therese (Lauren). A true test of someones character is to see how they react under pressure. Owen is an evil genius that bolts into action at the drop of a hat. He is someone that would get picked last for a team, but then would end up being a key player. You will be in awe at the way he dispatches with the armed thugs twice his size. The action and the kills are what audiences will enjoy the most, but the character development between Owen and Lauren is surprisingly toughing for such a violent film.
The Blu-ray offers a wonderful 1080p transfer and a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound presentation, which makes the film both look and sound great during action scenes. I have found that the levels are often low during talking scenes and get too loud during the action. My biggest gripe with the film is the lack of bonus features. Audiences are only treated to a 15-minute "Making Of" featurette that goes behind the scenes with cast interviews and clips. It is only presented in SD so the sound and picture quality are not great.
The Aggression Scale is a must-watch for genre fans that like a healthy dose of violence and blood. I always love anti-heroes, and Owen is one of the coolest anti-heroes I have seen on screen in a while. This will feel like a Twin Peaks reunion for a small bit with Wise and Ashbrook, but you will soon be woken up from that dream when the violence starts. Support indie film and check out this movie when it hits shelves on May 29!