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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Man on the Edge Horror Short Film "Impulse" Lacks Punch

"IMPULSE" (2015)
Genre: Horror
Length- 11:30
Company: Lurid Artist Productions
Website: Official Facebook

Edward (Brandon Nichols) is a loner who cannot speak to other people because he's too busy being tormented by the horrible things he wants to do to pretty young women.  To try and relieve some of those dark thoughts, he rests for a moment at a restaurant.

Sarah (Jamie Page) shows up as well . . . and Sarah's precisely the sort of woman Edward fantasizes about . . .

SELF CONTROL

Writer/director/editor/star Brandon Nichols (whew!) creates a few stirring images without the benefit of much of a budget, simply by gathering shots from his natural environment.  Take the spider in the beginning, for instance.  That was a brilliant shot and set the mood perfectly.  Then there's later in the film, when Edward's demons start to show themselves -- the masks are legitimately disturbing.

Unfortunately, once you start to see the movie beyond its periodically clever visuals, you start to see several issues begin to appear.  First of all, the characters are one dimensional and neither one ever gets to be much of anything.  Edward is psychotic, Sarah is an unsuspecting victim.  Sometimes, really good actors can convey a level of character development that the script never intended, and Nichols and Page do their best, but it doesn't happen.

On top of that, there is virtually no plot.  Considering that this is a horror story, anyone who's seen any horror film of the past thirty years will know exactly how all this is going to play out.

I don't think I'm spoiling anything if I offer you this analogy, but out of respect to all the viewers who will read this review, I'm going to "white out" this next paragraph just in case . . .

POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: Click and drag over the white space that follows to read what some might consider a spoiler.  You might want to watch "Impulse" first before reading it!

If I wrote a story about a mailman who wasn't sure if he wanted to be a mailman, and then just had him go deliver the mail, would that be an entertaining story?  No, it's just a sequence of events that doesn't mean anything.  Thematically, that story is dead.  

There has to be conflict, and I'm not seeing any.  Edward's monologues suggest he's unsure of whether he truly wants to be a sadistic murderer, but when push comes to shove, he sure dives right in -- or does he?  Using a desaturated color palette, we see examples of what Edward would love to be doing to Sarah.  The remainder of the film is "did he do it or did he not do it?"  Without developed characters, I don't have much of a reason to care one way or the other.

The events on screen can't deliver if they're not backed up by characters that ground the film in reality and to which, in the best of situations, viewers can relate.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 1.5 / 5.  I liked some of Nichols' monologue, particularly in the beginning, but the characters may as well be cardboard cut-outs and the plot has zero momentum.
Directing: 2.5 / 5.  Nichols' direction is the only involving part of the film.  I enjoyed the close-ups on the china, and his quick cuts to Edward's frightening demon.  He chose to move the camera slowly, opting for a slow build of tension throughout the film.  If the writing were a bit better, that choice would have worked a lot better.
Editing: 2 / 5.  Cutting from shot to shot seemed smooth.  Film grain was liberally applied from time to time, but beyond that nothing stood out, but then nothing detracted, either.
Sound/Music: 2.5 / 5.  Stock music from Kevin MacLeod and some noisy dialogue.
Acting: 1.5 / 5.  Nichols and Page do the best they can, but neither of their performances felt authentic, with the most troublesome sequences being the violent ones.

Final Grade: 2 / 5.

You can check out "Impulse" right here and don't forget to say hello to Lurid Artist Productions on Facebook!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!