Thursday, February 7, 2013

IMPULSE (1984)

IMPULSE starts with a bang...literally (hey girl!, totes!, cool story bro!, ermagehrd!, :D!).  And then it continues and ends with banging of all sorts, from first-time lesbians to automatic rifles and (less merrily) a clankingly mechanical script at times.  It also has banking.  It's no hidden gem the likes of which the world has not seen, but it certainly has enough cult cachet to earn its spot in discerning gentlemen's midnight collections, at least for a little while.

Plot: THE CRAZIES, only not so crazy for the most part.  No one rakes a lawn or cackles like a pirate, but the people of this small town are progressively losing their ability to restrain their impulses.  Think about when people swipe your parking space or talk on a cell phone at the library.  Approximately none of us immediately think, "Oh, well, live and let live."  Even Ghandi would have fantasized about beatings to death with fish or sticks.

In IMPULSE, that dream becomes a reality, slowly but surely.  The slow burn adds to the creep factor, as we (and our out-of-town protagonists) gingerly reach awareness that anger management is serious business.  At the outset, we basically get cranky behavior and unhinged yelling.  Then morbid behavior fueled by resentment about bedpans.  Then full-on shooting murders of delinquent kids and general mayhem.  Me gusta!

I dig films of this type, since they parallel the societal breakdowns of George Romero's stuff and really display human behavior after the mask has slipped.  So IMPULSE is on a good footing with me from the start.  BUT let us not be too impulsive, there are issues here.   As stated, the script is a little weak in parts, especially in the part that is Meg Tilly playing returning daughter Jennifer.  Not sure if it's Tilly's performance or the general flatness of the character, but we don't get too involved with the one person on whom the entire movie pivots.  Big flaw, which could be remedied in a potential remake.  Make her compelling, give her something to do besides looking equally concerned about upskirt photos and car accidents.   

The whole third act, which should be the big payoff and orgy of immolations and explosions, is not.  We get a little of that, but spend a lot of time at a broken-down truck in a field.  Then there's a last-minute explanation that feels completely unsatisfying.  Something like this needs a grim conclusion, in many cases, but it never needs a rush job.

Despite the flaws, IMPULSE is worth your time and I'm sort of surprised that it doesn't have more of a reputation (I mean, I'D never heard of it!).  I would not mind seeing a remake if the characters could be fleshed out a little more and the script altered in the film's final third.  And more explosions and small-town cadavers, please.

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