‘Impulse’ tackles tale of sexual assault, teleportation
What would happen if the heroine of a story were stricken by a calamity and blessed with a miracle at the same time? YouTubeRed’s new thriller, “Impulse,” starts off with that shocking premise. Its heroine is assaulted by the golden boy on campus in the back of a truck. At the same time she experiences a strange seizure and realizes she can teleport.
The ability, it turns out, is both a blessing and a curse as her defenses inadvertently paralyze her attacker.
Actress Maddie Hasson plays the 16-year-old Henry (for Henrietta) in “Impulse,” which began streaming on Wednesday. “I think Henry is an ordinary person faced with an extraordinary situation,” says Hasson, 23.
“I think she’s a strong and capable young woman who very much knows herself, but she doesn’t want anybody else to — which I think is common with everyone — not just teenagers. I think it’s hard. People are mean. People can be bullies. I think she’s sensitive and artistic and thoughtful. But she hides all of those things because she doesn’t want to be rejected or abandoned. And she just so happens to be able to teleport …”
Series showrunner Lauren LeFranc and the series star insisted the assault scene be accurate and graphic.
“I wanted to make it more visceral and more real because my vision for the show, moving forward, was very much an exploration of what it’s like for a young woman to go through that, and to really ground it,” says LeFranc.
“I think what we’ve been striving for in ‘Impulse’ is to make it very honest and very real, despite the genre elements that we have … Every single episode in the series very much so delves into Henry’s journey with what this experience has been like for her … That’s why I thought it was important to link teleportation with the sexual assault, because those two events happened in the same moment.”
It was not just a sci-fi fantasy for LeFranc; she researched the subject of sexual assault. “I spoke to various survivors and asked them what their experiences were. Obviously it’s very different for everybody, and I asked them what they have seen depicted before that bothered them, and what they DIDN’T want to see. And two things stood out: One was, ‘Please don’t let this be a journey that launches a male character and we just follow him.’ And ‘Please don’t make it neat and tidy and suddenly have her experience go away, or she’s “evolved” away from that.’ ”
Hasson pursued her own research for the role. “I met with an assault counselor and spoke to her at length about what it’s like to be assaulted. I really went over the assault scene because I wanted to know how something like that feels,” she says.
“And something interesting to me that she said was that, often it’s not, not often, but for some people — because everyone is different — you disassociate when something like that is happening to you. And you float kind of above yourself, and you’re watching it happen to you. And I thought that was interesting because teleporting is also a way of, for Henry, disassociating. So in a way, that’s linked in a clever way, I think.”
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