Tag Archives: dvd reviews

The Aggression Scale – Released on DVD and Blu-ray 3 September

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This review also appears over at Memorable TV

Described as Home Alone meets First Blood, The Aggression Scale is a taut and nervy thriller from writer Ben Powell (Satanic) and genre director Stephen C.Miller. Featuring strong performances, well executed set pieces and a reunion for Twin Peaks alumni Dana Ashbrook and Ray Wise, this slick and well crafted movie doesn’t pull any punches as it blazes down a grim highway of thrills, spills and nastily booby-trapped jumps.

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Dana Ashbrook (above)

Concerning itself with violent criminal Reg Bellevance’s (Wise) attempts to track down his horde of illicit cash, the film largely follows his motley crew of hit men (including Ashbrook) as they aim to hunt down and kill anyone involved in said money’s disappearance. It gets, as Bellevance instructs, “loud and messy”. After reaching the Rutledge’s remote new home, the gang of scary guys (most of who seem to be bald and wild eyed, The Hills Have Eyes style) quickly discover that at least one member of the family won’t go down without a fight…

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Ray Wise (above)

From the 80’s style hot-pink title credits (reminiscent of Nicolas Winding Refn’s hugely influential Drive) to its explosive finale, The Aggression Scale fills its lean 82minute running time with a barrage of violent shocks and none-more-black humour. With an impressive showing from its young leads Ryan Hartwig and Fabianne Therese, the film is an intelligent and classy brutal sugar rush of a thriller.

The Aggression Scale is released on DVD and Blu-Ray 3rd September

DVD Round-up ! Zombie 108, Blackthorn and ID : A…

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Hallo. A bit of a catch up on some DVDs I’ve seen over the last couple of months but haven’t as yet reviewed …

Kicking things off is the grim and grubby Zombie 108. Apparently the first Taiwanese Zombie movie, like, ever, this uncomfortable melding of zombie standards with torture porn is decidedly dodgy in almost every way. Using the familiar plot kick-starter of ‘bad-science’, the movie very quickly becomes embroiled in a torturous, serial-killer’s fun and games that have little bearing on the rest of it. Unfunny jokes and dull slapstick further despoil proceedings. A baby zombie (as featured on the cover, above) might have been interesting, but she (it?) barely features… avoid.

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Moving swiftly on, we have a completely different proposition in the form of Blackthorn. Imagining what life would have been like for Butch Cassidy had he survived the conclusion of late 60s classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Mateo Gil (a former screenwriter for Alejandro Amenabar, including the script for Open Your Eyes) delivers a taut and effective epic western of the kind that most of us didn’t think could be made anymore (at least, not without Clint Eastwood)… Sam Shepherd is wonderful as Butch – or, Blackthorn as he is known incognito –  and the sombre, occasionally explosive, mood hits all the right notes. Also featuring Stephen Rea as a corrupt official, Blackthorn is a classy widescreen picture of the sort that never goes out of fashion…

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Finally, we have ID:A. From Lars Von Trier’s Zentropa Productions (although the great Dane himself had nothing to do with it, as shall become startlingly clear), this memory damaged thriller recalls vastly superior films such as Memento, Mullholland Drive and Christian Petzold’s Yella but has nothing like the wit and verve of those particular titles. Following Tuva Novotny’s troubled lead across Denmark and Holland as she seeks the key to her identity, ID:A rarely makes much sense. This would not be any sort of problem for me if there was more to the script than tired gender specific clichés and poorly executed action sequences. Novotny’s lead is bland in the extreme and subsequently we don’t really care what is going on in her past, present or future. Like some kind of anti-Nikita, ID:A probably tells us more about the maker’s world-view than they’d care to admit…

Zombie 108, Blackthorn and ID:A are all available on DVD now…

Bel Ami – Out on DVD and Blu-ray now…

Robert Pattinson (Twilight saga, Cosmopolis) steps out of the emo shadows and brings his cheekbones and serious acting chops to the world of costumed drama. Pattinson’s rather dim ex-solder Georges returns from war to 1890s Paris with a vague notion of getting cash. Hooking up with notable society ladies Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci, he gets rich and has lots of sex but seems curiously befuddled by it all. Closely resembling the superior Dangerous Liaisons, Bel Ami, although enjoyable in patches, has got the looks but not the wit.

This review also appears in the current issue of Clash Magazine