Four heavily armed hitmen and two unusual teenagers go to war over $500,000 of stolen cash.
Directed by Steven C. Miller
Written by Ben Powell
Starring: Ryan Hartwig, Fabianne Therese, Ray Wise, and Dana Ashbrook
This remained undisturbed in my Netflix Queue for at least a year. After watching it last night, I have to wonder why it took me so long to see it. The Aggression Scale was a very pleasant surprise. I’m sure the Home Alone comparisons are out there, just waiting to be dubbed “Home Alone Meets The Strangers Meets Funny Games”. And that isn’t too far off.
The set up is fairly simple. A family with two disturbed teenagers move into a new home, trying to merge a new marriage with a new house. We have the silent tween boy and the weird old sister that’s a cutter. The new marriage just needs a catalyst to turn this on its ass. Oh, yeah, a team of trained assassins barge into the home at the behest of their boss who’s missing $500,000. The killers invaded several house before this one. Leaving the residents dead and captured on a Polaroid. The boss wants evidence, you see. Ray Wise (Twin Peaks), the always awesome actor, plays his role as recently paroled criminal well, and commands his killers with skill. It’s clear who the boss is, and ice flows in his veins. I won’t ruin it for you, but clearly the killers and the family cross paths.
It quickly becomes clear that Owen (Hartwig) isn’t all he seems. Quiet and reserved goes out the window when his family becomes a target. The killers realize they’re dealing with someone on the Aggression Scale. It’s a real test that reveals your likelihood to use violence to solve an issue. Maybe not a great plan if you just need to vent about your movie being out of stock at a Redbox, but pretty awesome skills if a group of paid killers enter your home.
Owen sizes up the killers and takes the creative and educated road to murder. Filled with shattered bones, plenty of booby traps, including jacks sharpened to a razor’s point; this film delves into some dark depths. You want to cheer Owen on, of course. The killers are as bad as the folks from Straw Dogs or The Strangers, which fuels our desire to see them die. A couple of the kills were dumbed down for the sake of a wider audience, but I still enjoyed the film very much. There’s something to be said about a silent kid on meds who sits around reading stuff like The Anarchist’s Cookbook. Whatever that kid has planned, is sure to be painful and disturbingly over-the-top.
I wish I would’ve watched this much sooner in the year, but late is better than not at all. End your year on a strong note, and allow yourself to meld into Owen’s twisted and articulated violence.