This review is a bit ironic in some ways. Few could ever predict what the future holds. That’s right, I’m looking to you Matt Groening and the team behind The Simpsons. Somehow your comedy can predict weird aspects of the future. 25 years ago, a post-T2, Edward Furlong starred in a little movie called Brainscan. The movie revolved around a violent video game. For the past weeks, it has been a hot debate in the social media circles as to whether or not video games do cause violence. The same conversation was being had twenty years ago when the dual shooters of the Columbine High School were found out to be fans of Marilyn Manson. Not to mention, once again with the James Holmes-Aurora shootings. Holmes admitted to being “the Joker” when apprehended after the attack. Video games now are in the spotlight for the same issue. If you’re looking for our views on the issue, you won’t find it here or in any of our content.
Rather the opposite. To echo the words from one Keanu Reeves at this year’s E3 – YOU’RE BREATHTAKING. If you need more of that in your life because of depression or suicide, feel free to engage in our resources or message us. To return to the film at question, this article is about raising the awareness of hope for the suicidal (all of our content is) but also to discuss the 1994 film, Brainscan. The film focuses on Michael (Furlong) a horror fanatic who gets talked into trying out a new video game called Brainscan. The game promises to be unlike anything else a player has ever played. Whatever happens in the game, happens in real life and that IRL situation happens to turn Michael into a serial killer.
For the most part, Brainscan seems to solely be remembered within the B-movie circles or the cult favorites of horror fans. In some ways, the film feels like a blueprint for Small Soldiers. Which would suit up for Summer 1998 release and go down in similar circles. Brainscan presents a great concept for a film and for the most part executes it well enough. The film creates a fun environment that marries the genres of horror, sci-fi and popcorn flicks. Though, it’s the antagonist in T. Ryder Smith’s The Trickster that gives the film such a lasting impression. Smith is an absolute electric delight set in the vein of Freddy Kreuger and Howie Mandel’s “Maurice” from Little Monsters. As entertaining as he is throughout the duration of the film, he could also be the poster child for the film’s biggest plunders.
Namely the biggest sin is the tonal inconsistencies of the film. It can never decide if it wants to be a goofy (& cheesy) sci-fi film or a serious horror film. One scene within the film sums it up perfectly. It lays within the last act of the film. Michael gets a guest at the door, leaving the Trickster to his own devices. Upon arrival back, Michael finds his room a mess and The Trickster is having a feast that would make Patrick Star blush. It’s a very comical scene but once the Trickster places down his food, the film quickly turns dark – like murderous dark. It is merely one of many examples of the inconsistencies throughout the film’s short duration.
Perhaps, only adding insult to injury are some of the side characters within the film which include a focused love interest (Amy Hargreaves) and best friend, Kyle (Jamie Marsh). Neither of which can act too terribly well. Only furthering the agreement for the film’s goofy sci-fi tone. Which is a shame considering Hargreaves would go on to turn in a truly powerful and emotional performance in 13 Reasons Why. Frank Langella’s Detective Hayden doesn’t quite fall into that camp. He is presented in the film and that’s about it. He just shows up. He’s never developed and continiously shows up when it is convenient for the script. Perhaps, the saving grace of the film comes with Furlong’s performance and his chemistry between The Trickster and Kyle. He is emotionally the most fleshed out character throughout the film. Providing some of the film’s most dramatic moments – even if they do come across a bit cliché to today’s audience.
Overall, Brainscan, is a fun marriage of sci-fi and horror. Presented with a captivating villain in T. Ryder Smith’s The Trickster. The film feels like a love letter to the later films in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Just as much as there is still love, there is equally as much to hate with him. Sadly, Smith is also the poster child for the film’s inability to establish one tone. A forced romance arc with Amy Hargreaves, a best friend who can hardly act, and the random appearances from Frank Langella’s Detective Hayden. There are moments where the film lacks structure, but makes up for it with its innovative plot, lead actor in Edward Furlong and the heart of his character. Brainscan is a charming little horror film with tons of appeal and atmosphere. Boot this one up!
RORSCHACH RATING SCALE:
And more importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, addiction, self-harm or depression - please free feel to reach out. Use any our resources, call the suicide lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or text 741-741.
Credits: Brainscan is property of Triumph Films and Mill Creek Entertainment. We do not own nor claim any rights. To purchase your copy from Mill Creek Entertainment, click here.