Director: John Flynn
Frank Langella/Det. Hayden
T. Ryder Smith/Trickster
Young horror fan Michael (Furlong) plays an interactive video game called “Brainscan” that has him killing for real…or does it? With the help of some supernatural punk-ish moron named Trickster (Smith), Mikey tries to beat the clock and win the deadly challenge.
Even though “Brainscan” had this kiddy “Nickelodeon” type of feel to it, I still found some “Bang Bus” to be had while watching it. I really dug the initial premise of having an interactive video game go all out in the “slaytime” department and I mucho appreciated the execution of it through the first person POV shots that put us in the same shoes as the lead. Fun times! I wish I could play that game for real; I got a couple of scores to settle. Where can I order it? Written by screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker (of "Se7en" fame), Brainscan’s main strength was surprisingly not in its horror elements, but in its portrayal of the main genre lover character Michael (Furlong).
Any kid that reads Fangoria, plays peeping Norman Bates on his sexy neighbor and has an “Igor” answering machine (Igor rocked!) is all good on my slab. Witnessing what pushed this horror/game fan to venture into his private little world and keep the rest of society ostracized involved me the most. I related to him to at one point in my life and I’m sure that many other horror fans will as well. Granted, the dramatic themes we’re handled in an “After School Special” type of obvious way, but to see them addressed in the first place was a treat. The film went on to deliver semi-gripping unraveling of murderous events with the cop subplot (Langella is the man!), thankfully adding some extra tension to the whole. We also got cheesy visual effects that were pretty kool to witness and an occasional charismatic somber feel here and there.
But every rose has a thorn that pricks and here that prick was called The “Trickster” (Smith). This useless “villain” was basically a cross between Beetlejuice, Freddy Krueger, my last “Goth chick” one night stand and Ronald McFucko. You got it folks, I found him to be quite annoying. Every time he’d show up, I’d get the violent urge to bash his head in and hurl my Denny’s into my lap, but that’s my own shit going on I guess. The good news is that as the clock-time moved forward, the sucka kind of grew on me like fungus on a 1951 Playboy Playmate of the Year and some of the humor he brought in became somewhat funny. Having said that, I still think the movie would’ve been more effective without the token “marketing tool” horror buffoon. He toned down the edge of the flick drastically and ruined a lot of the more horror-inclined moments. But you gotta appeal to the kiddies, right?
The other blow to the balls was that character-wise, most of the supporting players tickled my nerves to oblivion via awful dialogue (blame the screenwriter on that one) and bad acting. The best friend named Kyle (Marsh), in particular, was just begging for a random beating. He came across as such a beeyatch. If one of my buds ever told me “Best buddies forever” after an amicable handshake, I’d sucker-punch the bastard for saying that and he’d thank me for it afterwards with a pint of Guinness. COME ON! How corny can you get! You gonna give him a hand job too?
The token love interest chickadee in the flick was also nothing to scream about and neither was the way her relationship with Michael (Furlong) was explored. The chick’s purpose was mostly to appear in lingerie or semi-nude throughout the film with a “dunce” look on her face. Now that I think of it…GREAT MOVE! I got no problem with that! What’s wrong with me??? What else is she going to do on film? Cook? Clean? Rotate tires on one’s car? Scratch that, the dame was ok, except for her bad 80’s fashion thang going on.
But on the whole, although I found "Brainscan" to be watchable, it was still repetitive, held back too much on the horror and had an ending that played it waaaaaay too safe. That finale pissed me so off! They should definitely redo this premise for adults though (I heard a sequel is on the way-- hopefully it will be aimed at a more mature audience). The potential is there for a better and harder hitting film. GAME OVER?
It’s not a gorefest, but we get some plasma via a busted up knee, a light bloody stabbing, a severed foot and an eye gouging.
Edward Furlong (Michael) was on and off, he was still green as an actor when he did this movie and it showed. Frank Langella (Det. Hayden) cashed in that check, but in the man’s defense, he was an imposing presence and a hoot to watch. Amy Hargreaves (Kimberly) looked good with and without the bra. That’s basically why her character was in the film. I wanted to kill James Marsh (Kyle), it wasn’t all the actor’s fault though, his dialogue SUCKED! T. Ryder Smith (Trickster) had fun with the role and did what he had to do for better and worse.
T & A
Don’t blink and you’ll see Amy Hargreaves’ breasts. She’s also in many forms of undress throughout the movie. The ladies get the Trickster’s gnarly hair cut.
The visuals here went from gripping to TV movie-like. At times, the dark atmosphere was potent, while at others, it felt flat. I did love the first person, POV approach though and the minor suspense hit home. Uneven, but adequate.
The George Clinton score had a couple of good chords to it, but that’s all that it had! Talk about redundant! We also get some solid heavy tunes from the likes of Primus, Mudhoney, White Zombie, and Alcohol Funnyear.
Distribution: Columbia Tri-Star
IMAGE: The widescreen image did sport grain at times, but was overall decent.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital Stereo sound supported the dialogue and the somber score well.
EXTRA: We get Trailers for everything else but "Brainscan". COME ON GUYS! WORK WITH ME!
An underwhelming DVD for a “so-so” film.
Although it played it too “Atari” for my “PS2” self and was at times more redundant than a drunken Vince Vaughn, "Brainscan" still wound up being an easy fix, helped by its kool premise, its sometimes moody visuals and its horror friendly lead. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat with this flick, I wasn’t bored...I was just "there". You going to play this game? Do so if you’re at a loss for a time-killer, but I recommend “Silent Hill” or a healthy game of “Strip Hooker / Russian Roulette Poker” instead.
This film was shot in my native city of Montreal, Canada with the school in it actually being my old theater school: John Abbott College.
John Flynn also directed the action flicks "Lock Up" (with Stallone) and "Out for Justice" (with Steven Seagal).