Thursday, 16 April 2015


Director: Jason Impey
Writer: Jason Impey
Producer: Jason Impey
Cast: Jason Impey, Kaz B, Sarah Gardner
Country: UK
Year of release: 2015
Reviewed from: online screener

Jason Impey is something of a poster boy for the 21st century British Horror Revival. Self-taught, self-motivated, defiantly individualistic, Impey has built up an impressive body of work. His first two features (short film lash-ups aside) are both in my book Urban Terrors: Sick Bastard and Home Made. The latter forms the basis of this ‘new’ half-hour short, which Impey describes as the film he was aiming towards.

I put those quotes around ‘new’ advisedly. The thing is: Jason Impey’s filmography is a nightmare in terms of actually, you know, listing things in order. I believe (and I’m willing to be contradicted) that the original Home Made, shot in 2006, has been re-edited as Death on Camera and as Home Made Redux and as one third of anthology picture Killer Stories. Some form of the film was released as one of Gorezone’s cover-mounted discs and the entire 88 minute feature was posted onto YouTube, by Jason himself in September 2013.

Exploited is the latest incarnation of this tale and clearly the one with which Jason is happiest. It’s a mixture of old and new footage all starring Jason himself as Jack Hess (a clear nod to Last House on the Left). It all seems to fit together well: the fact that Jason has never, ever changed his haircut helps enormously with continuity!

The story is extremely simple and clearly reducing it down to 33 minutes is a good idea as this would be pretty tedious at feature length. Basically, Jack Hess is a guy who makes home-made horror movies – not unlike young Mr I himself – but has violent tendencies which come to the fore as he seeks sicker and more vile footage. (This is certainly not like young Mr I who is a respectable family man and a pillar of the Milton Keynes community.)

In essence then, what we have here is a series of vignettes of Jack Hess hassling, abusing and eventually killing young women, mostly viewed through his handheld camera (though this is not a found footage film). The whole thing is, on a superficial level, desperately misogynist – although to be fair, one boyfriend also ends up butchered. Eventually – somewhat predictably – one of the victims turns the tables.

The reason I describe the misogyny as ‘superficial’ is that the whole thing is obviously an homage to the sort of post-grindhouse, video nasty films that have influenced the director. This is most obvious in the music, but also the editing and camera angles and the general feeling of sleaziness which permeates the picture. This is what Impey has been working towards, in fits and starts, among all his other shorts and features, since 2006.

Does it work? Well, in the sense that it achieves what it sets out to do – yes, I suppose so. Impey is never apologetic about his cinematic oeuvre: he makes the sort of films enjoyed by the people who enjoy the sort of films he makes. He knows his market – and through Brain Damage and other distribution channels, his films have found an audience.

That said, Exploited unavoidably harkens back to Impey’s earlier work. While it was presumably cathartic for the director to finally exorcise his ghost (that’s assuming he can finally let this go, and does’t recut it into Exploited Redux next year), the film’s one-dimensional nature isn’t as satisfying as something like Lustful Desires, which seems more exploratory, less expositional. Exploited is narrated by Impey’s character (with an unexplained, and somewhat variable, American accent) but we’re not really given any insight into Jack Hess except that he vehemently hates women.

Jason Impey films are an acquired taste and I’d be lying if I said my admiration for the man’s work ethic and commitment is always matched by my appreciation of the finished result. Exploited isn’t the apotheosis of Impey’s work; a dozen titles already postdate it on his IMDB page (including his ghost-hunting horror-comedy trilogy with Eileen Daly). But it may perhaps mark a sea-change: Jason Impey moving on from that stage of his career to films more ambitious, more complex, more intriguing, possibly more mainstream, certainly more commercial - but hopefully no less iconoclastic. There’s only one Jason Impey and long may he plough his own furrow on the fringes of British horror.

MJS rating: B

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