The films of Jason Impey
It may be that some of you are familiar with the name Jason Impey. You may have seen his film SICK BASTARD on budget US DVD.
But for those who, like me, hadn't heard of Jason Impey, these three films offer a glimpse of the promise this independent filmmaker holds.
HOMEMADE 2 follows the exploits of serial killer Jack (Impey) as he films himself meeting, greeting and eventually killing his victims one by one.
The film, shot on handheld video for a rough authentic look, begins with a text introduction advising us that what follows is found footage filmed by snuff filmmaker Jack Hess.
Then without further ado we're introduced to "Victim 1". A young man arrives at a woodside destination to audition for a role in Jack's latest horror film. However, he balks when he realises Jack is the director of the Internet-famous snuff picture HOMEMADE and tries to make a run for it. But Jack is quicker, and ends up stomping on the poor unfortunate's head.
Next we move swiftly on to "Victim 2" - a fellow filmmaker who has contacted Jack by e-mail, wanting a part in his latest screen venture. Jack's invited into the man's kitchen for a cup of tea (which, incidentally, takes an age to make) where they chat about their favourite horror films - Impey even being namechecked in the dialogue as the director of SICK BASTARD! - while Jack waits for the drugs he's slipped into his friend's cuppa to take effect.
And so the film progresses, Jack meeting people either through arranged auditions or just stumbling across them (the cruel smothering of a homeless boy). Each episode is greeted with an onscreen title keeping a tally of the number of victims Jack has claimed.
HOMEMADE 2 begins as slightly repetitious and aimless, but builds into something quite powerful and unnerving as Jack's personality starts to come through more in the video footage. For the most part he's behind the camera, but even then he's joking, or mocking his victims prior to revealing his intent to them, or simply chatting amiably to them before turning unpleasant.
It's a very good, carefully nuanced performance from Impey and holds the heart of a film that steadily grows in its sense of uneasiness. Obviously comparisons to AUGUST UNDERGROUND, THE LAST HORROR MOVIE and AMATEUR PORN STAR KILLER are bound to show, but I found HOMEMADE 2 arguably more satisfying than any of those.
This is down to a number of reasons: the (what appears to be) improvised dialogue, helping the film's realistic tone; the savvy use of a single handheld camera with long uninterrupted takes, often where nothing will happen - but could, at any moment; the acting which, for the most part, is very natural and convincing; the character of Jack, who isn't unduly sinister or monstrous in a traditional sense - on the contrary, he's scarily normal when talking one-on-one. He's almost geeky at times, in fact, and the regional accent oddly helps accentuate his normality - the boy-next-door who just happens to be psychotic.
The main reasons HOMEMADE 2 is unsettling though, are because it's protagonist is a baby-faced loser (often overpowered by his victims) who is so obsessed with making a great horror film that it's feasible that he doesn't realise the wrong he's doing, and that the very Britishness of the film in it's look and feel can't help but force you to see it as a take on hoodie culture - whenever Jack looks into his lens to comment on the action, it's like watching one of those horrible "happy slap" videos. Scary.
HOMEMADE 2 is not especially graphic, preferring slow-build ups and plenty of dialogue to overt gore. It's more effective this way. In fact, the only bum note is the end which felt contrived and a complete cop-out.
DEMON SCROLL is a wickedly inventive tale concerning a demon hunter called Kyle (Rami Hilmi) who, after a botched attempt by the SAS, has been appointed with the job of ridding the world of people cursed by a demon virus.
As he walks through a run-down building shooting demons in the head, Kyle stumbles across old flame Sylvia (Julie Gilmour), a fellow demon hunter and the last surviving member of her team. Kyle takes her under his wing.
As their search for a mythical scroll that is said to hold the power to end the demon virus once and for all draws to an end, it suddenly looks like it's curtains for our heroic pair ...
And then the twist comes, which is amusing and inspired and there's no way I'm going to ruin it here.
With some wry moments of mirth, some effective CGI gore and impressive camerawork, DEMON SCROLL shows an entirely different side to Impey's talents. It may only be 7 minutes long, but it's a very accomplished piece of low-budget filmmaking.
Which leads us to REVENGE OF THE DEAD, a 9-minute zombie gorefest shot on location at Milton Keynes in March 2007.
Two women find their preferred spot in a field one afternoon and sit for a picnic. One is consoling the other over her recent break-up, and inevitably they come to the conclusion that "all men are bastards".
At that point, a man walks past with his dog and - unbeknownst to the whinging women - is attacked in the nearby bushes by a zombie. When the girls approach the bushes to check out the source of the strange noises they're hearing, they get more than they bargained for ...
Again, it's unfair to give any more away due to REVENGE's meagre running time. But I can say it's an enjoyably raw, grainy experience with some rousing gut-chomping and it even manages to squeeze in a spot of tasteless zombie rape.
All of Impey's films benefit from keep editing and enthusiastic performances. It's worth lending a nod to Kemal Yildirim too who worked closely with Impey, particularly on DEMON SCROLL which was very much a joint effort between the two.
The DVD-R's that I was sent to review featured solid visual transfers of each film, with strong English mono audio too. REVENGE even had an optional 5.1 mix, which sounded amazing!
Extras included several trailers, an enjoyable 21-minute Making Of on REVENGE and numerous well-produced photo galleries.
Anyone with an interest in upcoming British talent, or simply zero-budget independent horror filmmaking, will no doubt benefit from checking out Jason Impey's works.
Raw, unrefined but highly spirited and sincere, there's a lot to like here. And Impey's got the potential to seriously impress, given more money and better resources. Find out more at www.jasonimpey.co.uk.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Jason Impey|
|Region All - NTSC|
|see main review|