“Damn near perfect.” – BeyondHollywood.com.
The Aggression Scale
On DVD & Blu-Ray 03 Sep 2012
In the Aggression Scale, Owen is a kid with certain anger management issues. Let’s just say he was sent away for a while and his dad needs to keep an eye on his behaviour. When you see the movie and witness Owen going against a gang or thugs who invade his home, you’ll wonder why Kevin in Home Alone pussyfooted around with the Wet Bandits when he could of just torn them in two.
When we talk about movie monsters, we imagine Zombies, Vampires and maybe a Werewolf or two. Supernatural terrors that we can safely put in a box afterwards until the next time we need to make our hearts race and our arms goosebump, but in general I think the films that stick around, lurking in the backs of our minds causing nerve damage are the ones where real life psychosis visits the innocent and leaves a trail of murder and depravity. Think about the original version of Last House On The Left and then compare it to Wes Craven’s other classic Nightmare On Elm Street. Whose more worrying? The dream ghoul with the ‘witty’ one-liners who takes us on a fantasy hell ride or Krug, the real life sociopath who wants to rape your teenage daughter?
Now take that chilling idea of the reality based monster who could live next door and shave a few years off. If a mixed up, messed up murderer is scary enough in his or her adult form, surely it’s twice as horrifying when that loony tune is barely out of short pants?
The Good Son (1993)
A few years after the runaway success of Home Alone, some bright spark had the idea of flipping Culkin’s cute persona on its head with The Good Son. Unfortunately, the film vanished in Britain due to the tragic circumstances surrounding the Bulger murder case. Like the Corman-produced exploitation masterpiece Targets – a film about a random shooter that was withdrawn following the assassination of Bobby Kennedy – The Good Son really didn’t fit the times it was released in. A typical Bad Seed affair, Culkin portrays a kids spiral into psychosis rather well. From killing animals for kicks to causing multiple motorway pile-ups, the film ticks every box you might expect from a movie that says innate, genetic evil exists.
The Bad Seed (1956)
Not to be confused with the 80s TV movie remake, if The Good Son has an ironic title, The Bad Seed – a classic of the 1950s in my opinion – gets to the heart of the matter. A perfect Norman Rockwell-style housewife who seems to have everything – The house, the right husband and a seemingly ideal little girl, can’t help being tormented by a nightmare… The nightmare of her sweet, innocent looking daughter being a liar, a thief and possibly something even worse! Did the cherubic little brat drown her class mate? And is she actually her real daughter or the dubious offspring of a notorious serial killer?
Apt Pupil (1998)
Films like The Night Porter (also imminent from Anchor Bay) deal in aging Nazis who were intimately involved in the harrowing tortures of WW2 having their nightmare pasts being reawakened when said past comes knocking on the door. In Apt Pupil, a teenage brat with a dark Third Reich obsession learns that a neighbour was a noted war criminal and he blackmails the old man into revealing all. A messy symbiotic relationship ensues which leads to murder as the psychotic teenage boy and the broken old Nazi begin to revel in the atrocities of one of the 20th centuries darkest periods. It’s no classic, but this Stephen King adaptation makes a good fist of portraying the mean spirited and egotistic wants of a mentally unstable adolescent and also makes some valid points about how things buried in the past can fester. Sometimes it’s better to shine a bright light on our worst actions, lest we create a cult around them.
Gun Van Sant’s response to the horrors of the Columbine High School massacre could have been a tacky exercise in teenage psycho wish fulfillment but instead of glorying in misanthropic goths shooting up the school canteen, it instead captures the hopelessness and sheer alienation of the American youth experience for those kids who don’t fit the bill. A modest, thought provoking movie that asks the viewer to question their responses to such events, it pulls no punches for an audience who live in a country where your local supermarket sells firearms and the whole of society is predicated on ruling the world through the power of the fist.
Eden Lake (2008)
I don’t like Eden Lake. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a well made, well executed movie. It’s horrifying. It picks up a head of nasty grindhouse steam and it runs with it, like a rollercoaster of murder and hate aimed squarely at the innocent campers who just want to spend a day or two of idyllic isolation in a picturesque beauty spot. It also fits nicely into this list with a genuinely psychotic kid plus a few easily led scallywags who’ll go along with the depravity. My issue? It’s so anti-’underclass’. Clearly, this is film designed to shake the foundations under nice middle class types who fear the track suit wearing, slack jawed Chav hordes. Even the parents of these kids have no morals, it’s like a creeping sinking hole estate Wicker Man, where the Shameless-generation gather to feed on those who paid attention at school. Having said that, isn’t it the job of exploitation films to play on newsworthy fears? The is a horror movie as directed by the editorial staff of The Daily Mail.