Tuesday, June 12, 2012
THE AGGRESSION SCALE: Badassery comes in small packages.
Ray Wise is a mobster out of prison for a couple of days. He wants his money and he wants those who stole it to die very badly. He gives Dana Ashbrook a list of people to kill. The man at the end of that list has a son named Owen. After his father and step-mother are murdered Owen takes his step-sister into the woods where he springs traps on the murders dispatching them one by one. Owen is a thirteen or fourteen year old boy. He has problems of the mental variety. The creators of AGGRESSION SCALE describe it as HOME ALONE meets RAMBO and they are right. You have a young boy springing traps on criminals but all bloody and murdery like. No cartoon like consequences for these bad guys. Owen's traps are meant to hurt and kill. Like FIRST BLOOD there is a scene where we get to learn how badass Owen is. The bad guys find a box where Owen's medical history is kept. There they find reports on how aggressive he is along with photos of bullies who are forever maimed after their altercation with him. The whole thing creeps them out to the point where Derek Mears' character worries openly when he is told to go into the woods and get the boy. Think about it. Derek Mears played Jason 'freakin' Vorhees in the FRIDAY THE 13TH remake. JASON VORHEES IS SCARED OF THIS KID!
Owen doesn't speak. He seems to have little attachment to his family. When they talk he barely hears them over the high pitched ringing in his ears. They don't fit into his violent world. He goes along with them but he doesn't pay them much attention. Only when his step-sister violently stabs one of the bad guys in the back does he feel any kind of connection with her. He is a boy constantly thinking of violence. Where ever he goes he is constantly looking around formulating imaginary traps in his mind. You wouldn't be surprised if one day he snaps and kills his whole family. They are just there and that's it. A character like him is usually the villain but not in AGGRESSION SCALE. He is the hero.
After about ten minutes of watching THE AGGRESSION SCALE you realize you are watching something special. Why wasn't this film released in theaters? It would have done well. The characters have real personalities. The bad guys are all badass yet have moments where they are awkward around their boss or do something stupid and they know it. They come off as working class folks who happen to be murderous thugs. Everything feels down to earth and realistic. I think all the blood is practical effects making the violence a lot more convincing and shocking. The movie is never slow even during the character development moments which occupy the large portion of the beginning of the film. Its all interesting thanks to the great acting of all who is involved. The characters are all genuine. You care about the family and you feel horrible when the parents are murdered. Placement of the camera and where it moves to is given great thought. It is subtly creative. Its a wonderful film to look at. This is a far cry from director Steven C. Miller's first film AUTOMATION TRANSFUSION. The guy learns from his mistakes. Good job. I can't wait to see what he works on next.
Ray Wise is a great mobster who orders his men to go out and kill everyone who took his money. "Make it loud and messy" he tells them. His eyes have a fiery violence to themselves. He has a kid too that may have a similar mental condition as Owen but they don't get into that at all. The kid just seems to behave the same as Owen did at the beginning of the film. Dana Ashbrook is a powerhouse of badass as goes out and kills all those involved with the stolen loot. I barely recognized him. Last time I saw him was with Ray Wise in TWIN PEAKS. He looks a lot older and a lot more badass. Derek Mears really impressed me. He can be huge and scary yet vulnerable and a little goofy. He has the best 'getting shot and falling down' death I have ever seen. He really looks like he just died in front of the camera. Never seen someone fall that way before. Very convincing. I would like to see more of him in stuff too.
THE AGGRESSION SCALE is a darn satisfying film. It is a wonderful surprise that everyone should watch. Owen is a great character. He even kills a spider with a self made blow dart. That will get you a ton load of 'brownie' points in my book of cool. I really have nothing negative to say about it. Its a fast moving film that never bores but gets better and better as the story runs along. I highly recommend. Tell your friends and be the coolest.