[Note: This is a review of the 2006 film Impunity (directed by my two best friends Zac Petrillo and Chris Purcell) that I had written on December 14, 2006. This was a film that I had strongly believed in and helped them make while we were in college. It is available for rental or purchase on Amazon Instant Video here. Before reading, please note that I went to a lot of trouble to write an impartial review. I could have easily written that it was great, magnificent, and perfect, but I stayed honest, and I hope you agree. Enjoy!]
[Also, check out Zac’s blog “Yards of Grapevine,” which can be accessed in my blogroll to the right.]
Impunity, the first feature-length film from directors Zac Petrillo and Chris Purcell, is an extraordinary work from the opening frame to the last. Based on the short story “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe, the story centers on Darren Montresor, who as an old man, recounts the story of how, on a fateful night years before, he killed his friend Gabe Fortunato. One of the intriguing aspects of the film is that the viewer is never sure if the events shown in the film actually took place. Is the old Montresor a trustworthy narrator? Can we rely on what we’re told and shown? The answer doesn’t matter because the story works either way. It isn’t the outcome that makes this film; we’re told the outcome in the beginning. It is the suspenseful build-up that drives the film. It is also the performances of the two leads that carry the film. Joshua Cole gives a powerful, award-worthy performance as the young Montresor, as does Mike Chesbro, who portrays his friend Fortunato. The plot centers on Montresor meeting Fortunato at a party, where he has promised to show Fortunato a special watch. The watch, however, is not on him, but rather waiting inside the chamber he built in his parents’ basement, where he’ll soon take Fortunato.
Another intriguing aspect is that the film is open to multiple interpretations. Why does Montresor want to kill Fortunato? The answer is open to the viewer’s interpretation. Could there be possible gay undertones? Again, it depends on your interpretation. The film works with whichever interpretation you choose to go with. The interactions between Montresor and Fortunato are the most fun to watch, and as the film progresses, one could start wondering if Montresor will actually go through with his plan. Impunity is deep and multi-layered, and is a film that will surely prompt repeat viewings. There are quotes worth quoting (ex.: “Shit of my ass!”, “Fuckin’ nugget!”). The directors deftly use interesting camera angles and shots, adding to the unease of the story as it progresses. Wonderful performances are drawn from the cast. Besides Cole and Chesbro, Miebaka Yohannes (as Montresor’s friend Billy) and Stefanie Walmsley (as Fortunato’s girlfriend Sandra) are also standouts among the cast. Credit must also go out to editor Brian Guillaudeu, who keeps the film well-paced and never allows it to become boring. Impunity is a film that is definitely due for recognition. Recently, directors Zac Petrillo and Chris Purcell received the Young Filmmaker Award at the 2006 Queens International Film Festival, a culmination of all their efforts and hard work, as well as the efforts of the cast and crew that stuck with them all the way through. What exactly is Impunity? You’ll just have to watch for yourself to find out.