BAD IMPULSE is a dull experience
BAD IMPULSE (2020)
Have you ever read The Shining and thought, “Man, I wish there was a modern update to this similar to Child’s Play (2019) where the supernatural threat is instead some kind of piece of technology with a half-baked premise”? Well, have I got the film for you!
Bad Impulse starts off with a two-minute gritty, though not gory (because budget, I assume), opening of a family committing a murder-suicide. It’s dark, it’s thrilling, and sets the tone for the rest of the ninety-eight minutes that were soon to follow after the opening credits.
Except it doesn’t.
In terms of direction, Michelle Danner has a good eye for the medium in the simpler moments but more unique shots stick out like sore thumbs due to awkward timing, poor lighting, or potentially being shot in the wrong frame rate. To the film’s advantage, though, most of it is a simple drama and doesn’t actually lean into being a thriller until the last ten minutes. It’s not an enthralling ten minutes, though. Unfortunately, the big climax the film builds up to and the trailer suggests is extremely lackluster, forgettable, and slightly disjointed.
Henry Sharpe (Grant Bowler) is pitched a new home security system by a salesman (Paul Sorvino) that sounds really advanced. Henry turns down the offer then, after dinner with his boss, is beaten in his own home by masked invaders and left traumatized. Not wanting to risk another home invasion with his family around, Henry convinces his wife (Sonya Walger) to invest in the new security system and make their home safe. However, something seems off about the system, causing a slow descent into the family members giving in to their (wait for iiiiiiiiiiit) bad impulses.
It’s an interesting concept similar to Stephen King’s novel, The Shining, where a family moves to a hotel and supernatural forces influence the father to give in to his impulsive behavior. Unfortunately with Bad Impulse, and unlike The Shining, the protagonists we’re given are flat and dull with no desire or want for us to root for. We don’t see a father wanting to be a better father nor do we see any other family members try to do… well, anything. They merely go about their days for a very disjointed ninety-minutes until they suddenly want to kill each other in the last ten. Then we’re left with a twist at the end that makes no sense and an ending that’s supposed to be chilling but instead defeats the purpose of everything prior.
I’m not saying that the film needed to be like The Shining, but with a familiar concept comes a reminder of those familiar stories. It’s a story that’s been done better before and the lack of character motivations and an emotional core is the main problem hurting Bad Impulse.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The main cast is fairly good and everyone outside of the main cast is not. Lack of clear direction or the importance of some side characters hinder the performances. The dialogue is bearable, but occasionally drawn out, extremely vague, disconnected as if some lines were edited out, or just plain silly (see Rebecca Black’s two scenes where all she does is deliver pizza to her boyfriend and say to one girl, “You’re cuh-razy.”). There’s never a scene that’s written well enough to give the actors a time to shine and the direction only hurts the writing more.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
There’s a couple instances of unnecessary CGI, notably with ants, that don't make any sense to be included other than to show off production value. The general make-up is great, and whoever did the color grading did a fantastic job going by skin tone, but all the special effects makeup with blood and wounds are laughably terrible. Also, with the way they treat the house throughout the film, not breaking anything and relying on CGI for some blood stains, it was hard to really be invested in the atmosphere because it was almost as if the cast was told not to touch anything during production.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score is serviceable for the most part, but the flat ending is a real bummer. Not sure if that fault lies with the composer, editor, or director on that one. In terms of sound design, this is also serviceable, but there were occasions where it sounded like sound bytes of dialogue were copy and pasted. Same volume, same inflection, same everything; it definitely takes you out of the experience.
Bad Impulse. I think I felt more than one of these while watching the film. I wish I could say that there was still some enjoyment to be had in the realm of bad movies, but, outside of the quirky idea that Rebecca Black has an opening credit despite only being in two short scenes, Bad Impulse is a dull experience. A familiar story done poorly, this is not one worth watching.
Gravitas Ventures Has Released BAD IMPULSE In Theaters & on VOD