You Will Want to Give in to These ‘Toxic Impulses’

Toxic Impulses

Rating: 8/10

Director: Kyle Schadt

Writer: Kyle Schadt

Style: Thriller

Time: 89 minutes


Review by Mike Szymanski

Benedikt Sebastian plays a former cop who helps a mysterious woman

“Toxic Impulses” is truly one of the best examples of a modern film noir thriller than any movie that has been made in a long time.

Film noir (or “dark film” in French) is characterized by stark lighting, unkempt anti-heroes, twisting plot lines, and heavy subtexts weighing on almost all the characters. The genre became defined after WWII and it is often low-budget, in black and white, and takes place in Los Angeles.

All of these things are true in “Toxic Impulses,” (although it’s only a little bit in black and white) and it’s written and directed by Kyle Schadt, a neophyte director who is fascinated by this genre. This is his second film, and he has captured the feeling and mood of film noir perfectly, which is what he intended to do.

Like “Sunset Boulevard,” it starts off with a disembodied narration and you’re not sure right away who it is, or certainly what it’s all about.

Before the credit roll, a man is chased down through dark alleys and a warehouse with the chaser asking, “Where is she?” Then, the man is murdered for not answering fast enough. Anything can happen, and with film noir, it usually does.

The black-and-white credits that open with the long shadows and clever titling all show that it’s emulating film noir throughout this movie. The movie makes no apologies for throwing you a MacGuffin or two, or disposing of a favorite character along the way.

The story follows a former police detective named Mosley who is played by scruffy and handsome Benedikt Sebastian. He is down on his luck and unable to find a job. He sits at home eating chips and lamenting about his wife who left him.

Enter a mysterious woman (another staple of a noir movie), and she is looking for some help from this detective because she cannot go to the police. The mysterious woman, Zemira (played by a lovely Olivia Buckle) talks about her problem while Mosley’s protective neighbor Liz (played by a fantastic actress Helene Udy) listens in and doesn’t trust this new stranger. Udy makes herself much uglier in order to play the disheveled friend and neighbor of Mosley, and she plays her in kind of a wacky way, which is [perfect for the comic relief in this movie.

Olivia Buckle plays the mysterious woman who hides things from everyone

And again, like most noir thrillers, there’s a really creepy bad guy. In this case, Boyd (portrayed by Robert Ackerman Moss) a bald-headed psychopath who controls Zemira by pumping drugs into her system, and has no compunction about killing people. He is the one with the most severe toxic impulses.

In one of the very funny moments of this dark thriller, Zemira is on an airplane stuck listening to a single mom lament about having two kids and going back to school at 30 so she can make more money and Zemira says, “Why don’t you just rob a bank?” She goes on to explain how easy it is, and there’s practically never any violence, and how the bank tellers are trained to hand over the money and not put up any resistance. The women sitting around Zemira are mesmerized, then frightened, then laughing hysterically because it is such a good joke. Problem is, though, it isn’t a joke.

Noir thrillers were made to be done on a shoestring budget, which is why so many of them were shot, and so many are lost. The storylines and unpredictable plots make it more interesting, and there’s little reliance on special effects or shoot-outs.

Every character struggles with his or her own personal issues and demons, and it’s not always clear whom you should follow in the story, or who is going to make it to the end.

Director and writer Kyle Schadt said this movie was shot in only eight days during the pandemic. He does a good job of weaving the characters’ struggles with temptation, fear, morality, and survival. Beautifully shot, with a mix of stock footage and a haunting score, the director has created a true example of film noir and should be someone to keep an eye out for a bright future.

The movie already won Best Original Screenplay at the Las Vegas Silver State Film Festival and Best Narrative Feature at the Marina Del Rey Film festival.

“Toxic Impulses” will be available for streaming on most platforms by the end of December 2022.