Many horror fans fondly recall the film Scanners (1981), from director David Cronenberg, and long for the franchise to have rebirth and not a remake, a continuation of the sequels, well look no further for the distant cousin called The Mind’s Eye, from director Joe Begos who did the movie Almost Human (2013). Begos’ low-budget movie acquired distribution from RLJ Entertainment, however, the filmmaker along with his cast and crew prove serious dedication by working in minus 20-degrees, and cannot be denied their commitment and passion for their project.
The film opens with a quote “This film should be played loud,” lifted from The Driller Killer (1979) movie, before moving to the opening shot of Zack Connors walking on the side of the road with crisp white snow all around. He’s approached by authorities and it all feels and appears very similar to First Blood (1982), a lone drifter, not wanting to talk them, it starts here that the comparisons expound constantly throughout the movie to other films, well passed the obvious ones from Scanners, and this leads to a hokey visual cycle. Zack (Graham Skipper), delivers a committed performance and sells the point that one wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of his temper. Meanwhile, Rachel Meadows (Lauren Ashley Carter from The Woman (2011)) already at the Slovak Institute of Psychokinetics, is a love interest of Zack, shows a strong performance in her role. Zack and Rachel both born with incredible psychokinetic capabilities, but lured into an institution run by the seemingly sympathetic Dr. Michael Slovak (John Speredakos), who delivers a great performance. Soon enough, Zack realizes that the medication hinders his mind tricks and that good doctor is nothing more than a leech, which prevents Zack and Rachel from seeing each other, sounding familiar to another movie. In a daring escape, they flee the terrors of the instituting and Dr. Slovak’s imprisonment, however, as the villain; he definitely controls the rage and vileness of his portrayal and intent to control these powers. Speredakos attacks the role, and steals the spotlight at every opportunity, and as his character consumes more mind-altering drugs, he becomes a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and never relents in the madness. Begos, doesn’t hold back on the powers of telekinetic, and begins to eliminate cast members with varying degrees, including exploding heads, which raises the gore factor a tinge and shows the escape duos of nosebleeds and Jedi powers. Sadly, the interaction of the enemies and Zack and Rachel strength onward for too long, losing the suspense and tension once carefully design. In addition, it allows the audience to long for the classier and superior movie Scanners, some originality would make for better entertainment. The supporting cast saves a majority of the film, which contain many from other horror productions, first the talented Larry Fessenden, Jeremy Gardner (The Battery , and Noah Segan. The actors keep the structured plot moving forward, and with Begos providing a steady hand at the pacing, many aspects work well, though repeating dramatic effects grows a tad tiresome. Thankfully, Speredakos gives a stellar performance, feeding more sinister and wildly fantastic actions, enhance by special effects, but his facial expression develops more meaning with each frame.
Sadly, the downside of the film, comes from the numerous references to Scanners and tinge of The Fury (1978), however Cronenberg fingerprints linger everywhere, then add in a bit of Firestarter (1984) with the reference for nosebleeds and using institution instead of the shop, homage is enduring but once in movie, this isn’t a horror comedy. At least the movie does venture anywhere near Carrie (1976), but Begos shows the skills of visually striking productions, and the insanity of his style on the screen, an embracing moment to take the production and audience must come on the horizon soon.
Practical effects still hold a power with the audience, and while some consider it old school, they have a supremely wonderful place to allow for exploding guts, and covering many objects with slippery red stuff. There occur many portions in the movie where a series of b-movie elements arise, but by the end of the flick, the bloody designs smear themselves nicely for excitement, yet borders closely to silly in the excessiveness.
One wonders if Begos will transcend from reminiscing throwbacks joyous conjuring to creating fresh new exciting horrors, while homage welcomes a fondness for the past, nothing beats originality. Nevertheless, until that wish finds fulfillment, this movie, while highly influenced by Scanners, does deliver with gory deaths, stays on the right track, and avoids sheer cheesy moments or campiness, thanks to the talents of the cast and crew.
This review was originally published in August 2016 on the now defunct Rogue Cinema site with a view count of 1,623.
- Mind over matter
- The best SCANNERS sequel we never got
IMDb Rating: 4.5/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10