Toxic Impulses is a quick little neo-noir that hits on many of the mystery genre’s most familiar tropes while successfully twisting a few of its outdated traditions. The story follows an ex-police detective named Mosley (Benedikt Sebastian), who wasn’t fired, just “retired.” But same difference, right? He lives in an old apartment building next to Liz (Helene Udy) and sometimes helps solve mysteries for those who are down on their luck enough to come calling for him. His newest case is Zemira (Olivia Buckle), a femme fatale whose secrets could make this Mosley’s most dangerous case yet.
Writer-director Kyle Schadt only had eight days of principal photography, but he seems to have used the time well. The film is clear, well-lit, and well-shot, with an aesthetic borrowed from a number of noir sub-genres, including some nice neon shots later in the film. His script is lean and efficient, too, with a clear sense of character — particularly for Zemira, who doesn’t just get the “beautiful monster” treatment that traditionally accompanies such a character’s role in this kind of plot. In fact, the film largely belongs to Buckle rather than Sebastian, a fact slowly revealed over the course of the story. It’s a nice change of pace for this sort of tale, and the performers own their roles.
It’s clear Schadt has a reverence for detective fiction (Mosley’s name likely a reference to Charles Willeford’s classic detective, Hoke Moseley), and he does a great job producing a compelling and worthwhile entry into the genre. There are bank robberies, devious drug dealers, secret addictions and dark quests for redemption. The film will join the ranks of many independent films on Amazon Prime Video streaming this month, and it would make a pretty decent addition to any independent-noir marathon.