The Aggression Scale

| June 5, 2012

The Aggression Scale is one of the weirdest amalgamations of a home invasion film I’ve ever seen. It draws inspiration from so many different films, everything from Home Alone to Gummo and makes something completely radical. The film follows a group of hit men, led by Lloyd (Dana Ashbrook) that are on the hunt to get some money that was stolen from their boss, Mr. Bellavance (Ray Wise). Their search leads them to a small home in the countryside, that was just purchased by Bill (Boyd Kestner) Maggie (Lisa Rotondi), Bill’s son Owen (Ryan Hartwig) and Maggie’s daughter Lauren (Fabianne Therese). The family must rely on Owen’s past tendencies of violence towards bullies, in order to get out of the house alive.

While the premise is most certainly not original, what is created out of it in The Aggression Scale, with the use of intelligent casting and plot devices, make the film an interesting one. From the very beginning of the film, where we are introduced to Dana Ashbrook and Ray Wise’s characters, we see the nod towards David Lynch’s master TV series, Twin Peaks. When we see Owen retaliate towards the assailants that have entered his home, Home Alone pops right into your head and doesn’t get out. While on some levels, this could very well be a happy accident, where the filmmakers never intended to echo the many films referenced within The Aggression Scale, but there’s no way that I can believe that. The nods go from extremely subtle to right on the nose that just show how Director Stephen C. Miller and Writer Ben Powell are working within the confines and ooze that is popular culture in order to create something new.

On the Blu-Ray side of things, The Aggression Scale is presented in a wonderful and robust 1080p AVC encoded transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.41:1. With the film being shot on the Red One (with that being the camera shown behind the scenes), the film looks wonderful on Blu-Ray. Color are really crisp and balanced throughout the entire film. The audio is presented in an Dolby TrueHD 5.1 transfer that’s really solid. The dialog and the music are very much two of the highlights of the film. If there was any sort of flaw that I’d give to the audio of The Aggression Scale would be the spotty use of some gunshot effects. There are but a few moments in the film, where the gun blasts from various guns sound very hollow and weak. They’re not all like this, but with the inconsistency of some gun shots sounding wimpy, to others sounding as they should, it lowers the full potential of what would be a phenomenal mix.

The extras on the disc only contains a short behind the scenes with a bunch of the cast and crew speaking about their experience working on the film. Its pretty informative, but with a film that as good as this, I certainly wanted much more out of the making of.

While The Aggression Scale may seem like a standard home invasion movie or an average thriller on the surface, what lies underneath is a very different film. Ripe with ambition, full of energy and details that would make any film fan jump for joy make The Aggression Scale worth looking into. Recommended!

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
Filed in: Film, Video and DVD

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