Color, 2017, 76 mins. 42 secs.
Directed by Justin Decloux
Starring Haley Walker, Creedance Wright
Canmake (BD-R) (Canada R0 HD) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)
A stylish, Toronto-shot horror film that wears its influences on its sleeve, Impossible Horror is a perfect example of the kind of movie to put on really late at night to mess with your head before you go to sleep. Essentially a two hander for its two leading actresses with most of the running time set in the dead of night, it's an evocative slice of DIY digital filmmaking with more than a few surprises up its sleeve.
Every night, Lily (Walker) stays up late trying in vain to come up with her next film project by watching horror videos and attempting to create storyboards. However, several nights in a row she also hears a bloodcurdling scream that seems to emanate from nowhere, and her investigations outside each time result in unsettling sightings like strangers in hoodies or a panicked woman with a mutilated face wailing "Help me" while wielding a pair of scissors. Things take a turn when she meets the much more confident and assertive Hannah (Wright), who's been hunting the source of the scream in great detail. Lily sees the opportunity to start shooting an impromptu film on her phone, but the process quickly takes them into a dark, maddening terrain where reality itself seems to fall apart.
In the extras on the home video release of this second feature film from writer-director Justin Decloux (Teddy Bomb), the filmmakers are open about the influence of classic J-horror films (and more recent works by the likes of Sion Sono), H.P. Lovecraft, and a wave of other genre creations. Fortunately this isn't a string of hat-tipping references; the mood is distinctly its own with that strangely lonely, melancholy vibe that seems to be especially suited to digital productions. You essentially get multiple subgenres for the price of one here, too, with the opening, deliberately elliptical third working up a disorienting sense of dread before plunging into full-on splatter, cosmic horror, and Lynchian mind games, not necessarily in that order or exclusive to each other. The dialogue also has a distinct, alienated tone to it that the two leads pull off quite well, making this a very orthodox kind of female buddy movie as well.
Production company and distributor Canmake has released this film itself as a loaded special edition; note that it's advertised as a Blu-ray, though at least the copy sent for review came as a packaged BD-R. The transfer looks very solid given the technical specs for the film itself; the darker scenes have a flat digi look as expected, but it also bursts with color where needed (especially the second half) and has a clear, crystalline quality throughout. The LPCM stereo audio is also nicely manipulative and has some fun separation effects.
The film also comes with no less than six(!) audio commentaries: director Justin Decloux solo; Wright and Walker; producer-composer Emily Milling; producer-co-writer Nate Wilson; cinematographer Aidan Tanner; and a group cast chat with Milling, Wright, Walker, and April Etmanski. There's a bit of understandable overlap at times but each one is definitely its own beast as the participants go into the challenges of some of the shooting locations, the nature of its crowdfunded creation, the task of carrying a film on the shoulders of essentially two actors, the crankiness that comes from doing so much night shooting, and much more. A making-of featurette (35m57s) with optional Decloux/Milling commentary charts the years-long process of getting the film together, the 44-day production shoot (mostly on a Canon T2i camera), and the enthusiasm of everyone involved, followed by a short reel of deleted scenes (3m41s), again with optional commentary. The film's funding is covered in a compilation of crowdfunding videos (8m29s) including some very goofy concept pitches, also with audio commentary, followed by a Lincoln Center "Scary Movie Q&A" (15m18s), a casual "Inspirations" chat (14m35s) with Decloux and Wilson about their influences (J-horror, Steven Soderbergh, money, and more), "The Difficult Art of Duncan Bruce" (10m21s) exploring the artistry behind the drawings created by Walker's character, and a raw footage of "Supernatural Broadcasts" (4m50s) used in the final film.
Reviewed on April 3, 2019.