Brainscan (1994)


Is it any wonder we don’t have a “Brainscan” movie series by now? Twenty years later, and John Flynn’s horror mystery is still just ninety minutes of absolutely nothing. It’s bereft of scares, tension, and suspense, lacks any kind of interesting characterization, the villainous trickster is a bland pandering horror character that can barely muster up a shiver, and in the end the entire movie is hell bent on demonizing video games and video gamers. If you love killing in video games, odds are you’ll love killing in reality? I had to sit through just endless nonsensical crap for such sanctimonious finger wagging to the audience?

After a vicious car crash took his mother as a child, Michael is now haunted by her death and given a vicious scar on his knee. That’s important because he apparently doesn’t like people with their whole untarnished legs, as we find out later on. Michael is now a warped young man who lives in a posh house with his absentee father. He wiles his days away listening to heavy metal on his sound system, playing video games on his wide screen TV, speaking to people over his voice activated phone thanks to his robotic butler, and spying on his sexy neighbor with his state of the art video camera. Woe is he. Most of all, he loves to play horror video games. Because he’s warped, you see? He hates life and is in pain so he plays video games not for escapism, but because he’s mentally ill.

Understand? The movie makes it painfully clear to the audience, in case you don’t. He is given the attention of the new video entitled “Brainscan,” which promises the player an immersive experience unlike anything they’ve ever seen, thus Michael’s troubles begin. Playing the utterly realistic game, he invades a man’s home, stabs him to death, and amputates his leg. The following morning he awakens to discover the murder was real, and this murder was a kind of video game goal that’s invoked the game’s villain “wacky” The Trickster. The Trickster is a bland and boring horror villain resembling a demonic Dee Snider, who really does nothing. He can alter reality to certain degrees, and annoy Michael to no end. He sure as hell annoyed me.

Michael soon learns the only way he can continue and ultimately end the game, is if he surrenders himself to the trickster, and murder anyone the monster demands. The Trickster revels in Michael’s deeds, insisting that it’s an easy feat, considering video games and reality aren’t that far apart. Where is Michael’s dad? Did no one else play this video game considering it had a full page ad in Fangoria? And what, exactly, is a Reality Enhancing Signal? “Brainscan” is such an irritating horror film, wasting Frank Langella whose role here is to stand around mugging with an intimidating presence, while Edward Furlong is Edward Furlong once again. He screams, screeches, and offers zero range. “Brainscan” is never sure what kind of horror movie it is, but in the end, it’s pretty clear it’s a movie that warns about the dangers of horror video games. It may warp your perceptions of reality. Because no one ever murdered other people before video games existed.

Go pop in “Arcade” instead, and call it a day.