From the outside, the plot of The Aggression Scale is a complicated one.
When Bellavance, a big, nasty crime boss finally gets caught for his dirty deeds, he has one last chance to escape jail. Released for just 48 hours on bail, he plans to gather his money and run.
The problem is that his former employees have already helped themselves to the loot, thinking that it was safe to do so.
Bellavance meets with his most ruthless henchmen with the instructions that they are to find the money within two days and to kill everyone in their path.
As they set about doing this a family of four drive to the countryside somewhere keen to start a new life in a grand abode. Lauren resents her new step father for removing her from her former life with no good reason. She also dislikes her weird, silent stepbrother, owen, who has only recently been released from a mental institution and is on heavy medication.
Before long it becomes clear that the family are in possession of a large amount of Bellavance’s money and it’s not long before the hit men come calling.
But these professional killers haven’t prepared for Owen, who we learn has a history of violence and isn’t going to give up without a fight.
The Aggression Scale has been dubbed “First Blood meets Home Alone”, which does pretty much nail it on the head. The film has taken influence from them both and also bears a resemblance to the tiger movie, Burning Bright.
There are even clear nods to the films of influence in a couple of scenes, which almost makes it a shame that the surprise is somewhat spoiled by the synopsis.
Starting slowly, the film takes its time (perhaps a tad too long) to explain the complicated story before introducing the lead family and their complicated set of circumstances.
As the pace picks up, tension builds appropriately, but as the film progresses the hit men seem less threatening. And as the ‘home alone’ elements surface, it moves dangerously close to being a black comedy and the killers bumble around, afraid of the 15 year old boy that they rapidly (and without much cause) grow to fear.
Looking at The Aggression Scale from a lighter perspective (than we usually do at Love Horror) it is still an enjoyable experience.
The plot is well thought out, and Ryan Hartwig plays our hero with confidence, backed by Twin Peaks veterans, Dale Ashbrook and Ray Wise.
The various traps and devices are fun and although there are some elements of horror (and lots of blood), the gore is restricted to glimpses, leaving more time for the more engaging action.
The Aggression Scale isn’t the gritty ordeal that I expected, but instead brings a refreshing element of adventure to a potentially arduous experience.