The Impact is kind of like Armageddon meets Kentucky Fried Movie. For those born after the 70s, Kentucky Friend Movie was an anthology film with a series of satirical sketches tying a feature runtime together. Where KFM was largely irreverent, the various shorts that make up The Impact do share a common link in a meteor headed for the earth. This is where the Armageddon comparison comes in, although it was technically a giant asteroid in that film. The differences don’t end there. There’s no rescue mission, no underdog heroes, no authority figures constantly making moronic decisions. The opening, written by Joe Eszterhas, sets the tone with the U.S. President (Olivia Williams) addressing the nation… and the world. A meteor is going to hit within hours and wipe out humanity with no hope for survival. And you thought COVID was grim.
Ironically, The Impact was temporarily halted due to the pandemic. The project was already well underway, starting with a writing challenge that saw 2,800 scripts submitted. About 50 scripts were ultimately chosen with almost 100 shorts being produced by different filmmakers. In an impressive feat of editing and planning, the best of the best got compiled into The Impact. This isn’t the first time that director Chris Jones and the London Screenwriters’ Festival have tried such an experiment, previously giving us 50 Kisses. The Impact is perhaps even more ambitious with world-ending stakes, but a simple, human touch. It’s a unique approach to the apocalypse genre, as well as filmmaking in general.
While Don’t Look Up aimed to be a down-to-earth apocalypse movie, The Impact feels more relatable as we observe how various people choose to spend their final hours. Some connect with their loved ones, but the best shorts are the ones that take a funny, surreal, or unexpected approach. Life’s a Beach (Written by Rachel Welch/Directed by Mark Hampton) is a quirky romance of sorts cut short. And Then There Were Two (Written by Alison Clapham/Directed by Louise Clover) has the essence of a silent comedy… with naked old people. My favorite is The Survivalist (Written by Chris Mitchel/Directed by Matt George), in which a social outcast correctly predicts the end of the world. He may celebrate his accuracy at first, but the resolution is hilariously tragic.
From a cat woman dousing herself in milk, to teenagers losing their virginities, to a lost teenager finding solace with a stern teacher, the filmmakers offer a wide variety of inventive scenarios. Admittedly, some shorts are a tad too similar and a few of them lack a proper resolution. Also, for a film about the world ending, the focus is kept mainly on English-speaking countries. This makes sense, seeing how the film is a London Screenwriters’ Festival initiative. Still, the apocalypse might’ve carried even more weight if every corner of the world got the same amount of screen time with a variety of languages. For what the filmmakers had to work with, though, each short brings the appropriate level of gravitas.
Hopefully, the film will leave an impact in more ways than one. Reportedly setting world records for the most directors and writers for a feature, The Impact shines the spotlight on so many talents that the credits also broke a record. It’d be intriguing to see other festivals and even major studios experiment with this crowd-created idea. The Impact is more than just an innovative experiment, however. It’s a sometimes poignant and sometimes darkly humorous slice of life movie about the end of all life. Even when the world is ending, the little moments can leave the strongest impact.