As far as short films go, Impulse lives in that upper echelon realm of films with a gorgeous look, sweet sound and slick editing. When you step back after watching it, with so much end of the world horror hinted at, and the tone so macabre, you truly get swept up.
The short reminded me initially of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, specifically the moments in that film where we’re first introduced to a world gone mad where every aspect of “normalcy” is suddenly sinister and violent. While Impulse isn’t as overt as a zombie assault, it really nails that same unease. Sure, folks may look benign and normal, but behind every sullen face could be a murderous sociopath.
While the film sets up that the world is ending, I’m also a bit dubious about that aspect as well, because hints begin to drop here and there that, perhaps, this problem may actually be more contained than it initially seems. There’s a quarantine feel going, and suggestions for survivors to all group together in one location had cynical me thinking “easier target to eliminate” than “easier group to save.”
All that in 20 minutes, and I haven’t even mentioned the musician character, played by Chris Masterson, who winds up being our predominantly silent guide through these end times. He apparently needs to be somewhere, and he needs to be there with his guitar, and the short follows him as the environment surrounding consistently trips up what should be an otherwise simple journey. While sometimes having a recognizable face in a short film can be a bit of a red flag (you’d be surprised how many shorts gets programmed at festivals, regardless of quality, based on the fact that a celebrity had something to do with it; perhaps you wouldn’t be that surprised), I’m happy to say that such a consideration is not a concern here.
Again, Impulse is a polished bit of filmmaking that hits its “instability at world’s end” vibe perfectly. Impulse raises many questions that it leaves unanswered, and I wish that there was more to it since I enjoyed the experience so much.
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