From one of Hollywood's leading acting coaches, Michelle Danner has transformed herself into one of the indie scenes more engaging and thoughtful filmmakers since her debut with Hello Herman and continuing onto this compelling thriller Bad Impulse.
Bad Impulse stars Grant Bowler (Guns of Akimbo, Atlas Shrugged: Part 1) as Henry Sharpe, a suburban husband and father whose life is seemingly successful until a business deal goes awry and sets in motion actions that will alter Henry's psyche and turn the once amiable, secure man into a spiraling ball of paranoia. After a break-in, Henry opts to secure his home and his family with the latest and greatest AI-inspired security system courtesy of the mysterious the minute we see him Lou Branch (Paul Sorvino). There's no escaping the wonders of this system that comes complete with DNA verifying anklets and healthy doses of paranoia.
Bad Impulse picked up a handful of awards along its pandemic-impaired fest journey including wins at London Independent Film Awards (Best Feature Film), Golden State Film Festival (Best Feature Film), Culver City Film Festival (Best Director, Danner), International Film Festival Manhattan (Best Feature Film - USA), and Cinema at the Edge Independent Film Festival (Best Feature Film). It's yet the latest succesful effort for Danner, an acclaimed acting coach who has worked with the likes of Chris Rock, Gerard Butler, James Franco, Common, Zooey Deschanel, Gabrielle Union, Michelle Rodriguez, and a host of others.
On the surface, Bad Impulse may seem like your ordinary techno-thriller. However, Jason Chase Tyrrell's imaginative script goes places you don't quite expect and Danner's actor-friendly style of filmmaking keeps pace the entire time. There are lessons big and small here, obvious and not quite so obvious and Bad Impulse is the kind of film that warrants multiple views to catch all of Danner's instinctive touches.
Bowler's an absolute gem here as Henry, initially possessing an almost retro-styled family man aura about him yet slowly transitioning into something else as it becomes readily apparent that there's a lot more than security that comes with this ultra-secure yet not quite secure security system. Watching Bowler's transformation is an utter joy.
While Bowler may lead the way here, Bad Impulse's ensemble cast is uniformly strong. Saturn Award nominated Sonya Walger (television's Lost) is exceptional as Henry's spouse Christine while Nicholas Danner is quietly staggering as Henry and Christine's son Mike. Abbi Ford is also incredibly strong here. It likely goes without saying, but even in brief appearances Paul Sorvino and Dan Lauria make all the difference in the world here.
Music by Holly Amber Church works quite nicely with the film's wide array of emotions and Sandra Valde-Hansen's lensing builds suspense, thrillers, mystery and, at times, an almost jarring sense of normalcy.
While the special effects occasionally fall a bit short, always a challenge with a modestly budgeted motion picture, Danner nicely overcomes these challenges with a focused, intentional ensemble cast and Tyrrell's never less than engaging story.
Bad Impulse is available for viewing now via streaming outlets and it's definitely worth your time to check out.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic