In The Aggression Scale a pair of meddling kids get the best of a group of killers after their house is infiltrated. Saying more about this ultra-violent flick would ruin many of its best surprises; suffice to say it’s like Home Alone if Kevin McAllister were the love child of Rambo and MacGyver.
Steven C. Miller’s The Aggression Scale recently debuted during the 2012 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, and while on hand for the fest, Dread Central had the opportunity to chat with the two younger ass-kicking stars of the flick – Ryan Hartwig and Fabianne Therese – who must face down a handful of murderous thugs who are hell-bent on retrieving $500,000 that was stolen from their criminal overlord of a boss.
Check out our interview with both Therese and Hartwig below for The Aggression Scale, and make sure to look for more on the flick closer to its home release date this upcoming May!
Dread Central: How much fun was it to take on adults and get to kick some ass in The Aggression Scale?
Ryan Hartwig: It was a total blast because there just aren’t movies anymore where you see the kids actually come out and win against 30 and 40-year-old men. The odds are against you and one of the cool things about Steven is that he’s a fan of 80’s movies like The Goonies and he wanted to see a modern spin on that kind of story.
To me, The Aggression Scale feels like Home Alone meets Rambo and what’s even cooler is that I got to do my own stunts. I never get to do these kinds of things so it was definitely fun to jump off the roof and do all that kind of cool physical stuff.
Dread Central: I really loved the brother/sister relationship in this and how that dynamic between you two shifted several times throughout the movie.
Fabianne Therese: Both Steven and I had a really distinct vision for my character’s relationship with her brother; it’s a typical kind of insecurity that comes from all that underlying stuff from being a teenager and having to move and adapt to a lot of family changes too. And because I’m older, I take more of a dominant stance over my brother at the beginning because that’s how I think it should be.
But once everything gets going, then suddenly it’s my younger brother being dominant over me because of my own fear and now I’ve seen what he’s capable of once he begins taking out the killers. And there is a lot of mistrust on my part during those moments of the movie because I don’t know if I can fully trust that he won’t kill me either.
Then there’s a moment where he shows his concern for me and I realize that we’re in this together and so things balance out between us and I liked that; I liked that our relationship had such an incredible arc to it.
Dread Central: Was it daunting at all to try and ‘sell’ the fact that you guys could take on grown-ups in this movie?
Ryan Hartwig: Steven is an awesome guy and he knows what he wants and how to get it so ‘selling’ that I could take these guys out came pretty easy, I think because of the way he was able to edit the movie together. But it was definitely more of a challenge for me than say Derek because I’m a kid who has to level the playing field against a group of adults. If I got into a regular fight with a 30-year-old man, I wouldn’t stand a chance. But because my character already has a hunch that bad things are coming, he can start preparing ahead of time so he can fight back.
Dread Central: I know making indie movies are never easy; how was it working on The Aggression Scale?
Ryan Hartwig: It was so hard but so worth it; I remember saying after we wrapped that I’m probably done working out for a good three years because we shot the movie in 12 days and we were always hustling. We had to get it perfect on the first shot or it would slow everything down and beyond the cost, if we had to do more than one take in the forest, it gets exhausting when you’re running back and forth a bunch of times.
Dread Central: Fabianne, I heard you actually got hurt during the scene when you put your hand through the window.
Fabianne Therese: I did! It was crazy; it was like six o’clock in the morning and I had like six Red Bulls and coffee on top of that and I was just all pumped up. The way the stunt was supposed to go was that I was going to run and open the window quickly and then jump out. But I guess my adrenaline was racing because I went running and somehow I smashed my hand straight through the window. I pulled it out and there was blood everywhere; since I couldn’t just stop shooting, we just worked with it. We wrote it in the story and I was back on set the next day with 24 stitches and running around with a bloody rag wrapped around my injured hand.
Dread Central: Ryan, how challenging was it for you to play a role that had to do so much without ever saying a word?
Ryan Hartwig: It was a really challenging role because you can’t say anything to get your point or your emotions across as easy as it would be if you could just come out and say the line. So you have to really do everything on the simplest level- facial expressions, body language, small smiles- and hope that it connects with the audience.
Dread Central: I know you both have other genre projects out there; can you talk about those?
Ryan Hartwig: I actually worked on another film with the producers Evan, Joe and Travis called The Thompsons which is a sequel to The Hamiltons. It’s a vampire movie that we filmed in London and it’s really dark like this movie. I can’t say too much but we play wanted vampires; I see it kind of like a hardcore road movie.
Fabianne Therese: It’s funny but I never really planned on my first projects both being horror films but that’s how it worked out. The other movie I did was John Dies at the End with Don Coscarelli and both of them are so incredibly different but both were so much fun to make. It’s pretty incredible.
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