Writer-director Kyle Schadt‘s neo-noir Toxic Impulses opens with a bang. The frenzied close-ups of a screaming man threatening to shoot his captive immediately seize the audience and never lets go. Toxic Impulses is a high-energy film that centers on ex-police officer Mosley (Benedikt Sebastian) who has become a lonely couch potato. His overprotective neighbor Liz (Helene Udy) is his only friend.
One day, Zemira (Olivia Buckle) asks for Mosley’s help to escape the clutches of her handler Boyd (Robert Ackerman Moss). Zemira is a well-written and complex femme fatale that avoids misogynistic cliches. Buckle sensitively captures her struggles with a heroin addiction, desire to still be a good mother, and the bank robberies she commits for Boyd to pay her debt and fund her drug habit.
Jay Habre’s measured performance as Zemira’s ex-husband James adds another interesting layer to her story. But the most notable performer is Moss. He elevates his role as a stereotypical villain with a terrifying intensity and drive. His threats to Zemira are truly spine-chilling. He is a significant part of what makes this tense neo-noir work so well.
If only Mosley was that riveting. The voice-over narration flattens Benedikt Sebastian’s performance. While it is a noir trope, Sebastian sounds like he is trying too hard to have that trademark gravelly, world-weary voice. The voice-overs give too much exposition and distance you from the character instead of immersing you in the noir genre and its shadowy world.
Schadt‘s strengths lie in the sleek visuals. One of the best scenes is a car chase shot with such dynamic excitement that it feels like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster. Toxic Impulses also has an incredible score by Field Observations that takes audiences through a range of thrilling emotions.
Toxic Impulses injects electrifying new life into the well-worn noir genre with its tight editing, slick images, and intense story of questionable morality held together by a captivating cast.