Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Impulse (1984)

Okay, so there is really only one reason why I checked out Impulse, and that's because it has an AWESOME cast - Meg Tilly (who I've been in love with ever since seeing Psycho 2 when I was like, 8 years old), Bill Paxton, Tim Matheson and Hume Cronyn. It's a pretty serious line-up for what seems like just another low-budget throwaway flick, so I was really interested to see if Impulse was capable of living up to my expectations.

Jennifer (Tilly) returns to her hometown with her boyfriend Stuart (Matheson) after her mother tries to commit suicide. While they wait for Jennifer's mother to recover they begin to notice that the townsfolk are beginning to act a little strange, and soon violence erupts when it seems that people are beginning to lose all inhibition... So that's the title explained anyways. This all sounds far from original, but along the way there are a few odd flirtations with incest and under-age sex that make Impulse a somewhat unique, as well as occasionally uncomfortable watch. The poster for Impulse makes it look like an awful "erotic" thriller, but is it really that bad?

This movie is a difficult one - for one thing, it feels like a TV movie for most of it's running time. Everything about Impulse is quite small, and it's not exactly a bombastic watch or anything, instead slowly building to the eventual outbreak of violence in the town. Of course, the problem here is that the movie could well be a bit of a drag for people who prefer a faster paced movie, but personally it wasn't something that bothered me. Maybe it was the higher class of cast, but I had no problem with getting to know the characters and just enjoying the movie for what it was. It's well shot and at times very effective, and there were definitely a few scenes that genuinely caught me off guard. One storyline involving a doctor (Cronyn) and Jennifer's mother was especially grim and actually kind of depressing - I guess it got a bigger reaction out of me than I was expecting, which has gotta count for something.

Unfortunately Impulse falters in the final 20 minutes or so, where things slow down to a snail's pace - it also takes liberties that don't really make sense, with a few developments coming off as a little too convenient. The ending seems to come out of nowhere and really fails to satisfy - it's easily the weakest part of the film. To be fair, there are a few decent twists along the way, but ending on such a bum note brings the movie down a great deal, and I wish more of an effort was made in rounding things up, because the final section just felt really lazy to me.

Impulse is a well-acted, mostly well-written film that unfortunately falls apart somewhat towards the end, which is a huge shame because it still has a lot going for it. I would definitely give it another watch at some point, and if you're into movies like The Crazies you may well enjoy this (though bear in mind Impulse is much more less sensational than Romero's film). It's always a pleasure to see a really decent cast appear in B-movies such as this one, so you could do a lot worse I reckon, and hey - it's got BILL PAXTON fer chrissakes.

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