[Blu-ray Reviews] The Home Invasion Sub-Genre Is Alive & Kicking!

THE AGGRESSION SCALE: The Aggression Scale can safely be described as Home Alone by way of Die Hard. A group of four hitmen are attempting to retrieve $500,000 of stolen cash for a criminal kingpin (Ray Wise of Twin Peaks fame). Of course, they eventually meet up with their worst nightmare in the form of a seriously disturbed teenager. This classic Juvie case ends up being a fierce combination of Kevin McCallister and John Rambo. With a premise loaded with grisly potential, The Aggression Scale surprisingly plays fairly straightforward. The violence is certainly gritty and the traps can get pretty nasty but I still got the feeling the filmmakers were holding back. This low-budgeter never went that extra level for me. It’s definitely worth a view if you were ever curious on what an R-rated Home Alone might look like. It’s a briskly-paced, well-acted little thriller that never overstays its welcome. I particularly enjoyed the performances from Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs from Twin Peaks) and Derek Mears (Jason from Platinum Dunes’ Friday the 13th) as the two main baddies. If you keep expectations in check, I have no doubt you’ll find The Aggression Scale enjoyable on some level.

The MPEG-4 AVC video is pretty impressive for a low budget feature. The fine detail and colourization really stand-out. The black levels are equally pleasing. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 is serviceable. My biggest gripe; I found the gunfire SFX to be on the weak side which hurt the overall impact of the violence. As for special features, we get a single 15-minute “making of” featurette. It lacks structure and jumps around without delving into any significant content.

3/5 Skulls

MOTHER’S DAY (Canadian release): Director Darren Lynn Bousman’s (Saw II thru IV and Repo! The Genetic Opera) Mother’s Day had quite the arduous journey to the big screen/home video. This remake (in name only) of the trashy 1980 Troma cult classic was shot back in 2010. Like many that have suffered a similar fate, one would assume there was something amiss with the final product. At times; a resounding yes (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation) and other times; a hell no (Trick r’ Treat). Mother’s Day falls in the latter category. In fact for Bousman, it’s his finest work to date. Unlike the original, this reimagining plays out as a tough-as-nails thriller. After a bank robbery goes bust, three brothers return to their old stopping grounds only to find it is occupied by new homeowners who are hosting a party with their closest friends. Once the domineering mother (Rebecca De Morney of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle) arrives to the scene, matters get much worse for the unfortunate hostages.

It takes a mere 9 minutes for the shit to hit the fan. Mother’s Day never lets up the pressure from that point on. At a running time of 112 minutes, Bousman successfully manages to never let the tension and momentum ever slip. It’s a twisty, unsettling ride from start to finish. While the violence isn’t on the operatic level of the Saw franchise, its obvious Bousman learned a thing or two during his run on that Grand Guignol horror show. Whenever the red stuff makes an appearance, it packs a ferocious punch. Mother’s Day is enhanced by a splendid ensemble that helps keep the tension in a constant high gear. De Morney is pitch-perfect as the lead antagonist. She successfully evokes many levels of complexity, keeping the character of Mother from ever feeling one-dimensional or definable. Actually the unpredictability of human nature makes the actions from both camps rather tough to lock down. These characteristics make Mother’s Day a pleasantly unpleasant and thrilling ride to hop onboard of.

Mother’s Day comes equipped with a rock solid 1080p MPEG-4 AVC transfer, sporting consistently nice colour and detail. Most importantly, this 35mm-shot production contains a healthy level of grain throughout. It’s nice to see a modern feature with a filmic appearance every once in a while. Unfortunately the commentary track that accompanies the U.S. release is nowhere to be found on this edition. Actually Canadians get no love in the supplement department. There’s not even a menu screen!? The only exclusive on this disc is a DTS-HD 5.1 mix. It isn’t the most active in the market but it more than gets the job done effectively during all the pivotal moments. Not sure if there’s any difference from Anchor Bay’s Dolby TrueHD soundtrack but I generally prefer DTS so this is a plus in my opinion.

4/5 Skulls

  • Jhanse3 (Jhanse29)

    I have the US version of Mothers Day and I couldn’t find the commentary track on it either. Listed as the only bonus feature but I couldn’t see how to play it.

  • Mike Pereira

    Apparently there’s an audio commentary track with Director Darren Lynn Bousman and Actor Shawn Ashmore. You might have the odd defect.