Michael (Edward Furlong) is a typical suburban teenager. Isolated from his distant father and dead mother, he finds refuge in horror fanzines and gory slasher flicks. When he plugs into Brainscan, an interactive game where the player initiates all-too-real murders, he’s confident he can beat the wisecracking game master … until he finds a severed foot in the fridge and belatedly realizes there may be more to Brainscan than he realizes!
Written by: Brian Owens and Andrew Kevin Walker
Directed by: John Flynn
Starring: Edward Furlong, Frank Langella, T. Ryder Smith, Amy Hargraves, and James (as “Jamie”) Marsh
Hell-o, gore hounds and goth kittens! Today’s review is Brainscan. I saw this film three times in the theater as a teenager. Today I wouldn’t be into something like this, but it holds its ground as one of my favorites films. Mainly as a teenager, the idea sold it for me. Even still, it has some pretty gruesome murder sprinkled within, which is another reason my bloodthirsty appetite was pleased with this nineties classic.
Michael Brower (Edward Furlong of American History X, Terminator 2) is a loner teenager in a single parented (by his father) home with only one best friend and a cute classmate neighbor that he is obsessing over. Most students in school think he’s weird and strange, except for his fellow Horror Club members (brilliant, f*cking brilliant.). I would have had one too, if my high school would’ve allowed. Michael has flashbacks of the horrible car accident that he and his mother were in as he was a child. His mother never made it out and he is still scarred mentally and physically from this accident.
Michael’s father is constantly away on business trips and his dismay shows quite clearly. Michael has nothing better to do but spy on his attractive neighbor, Kim (Amy Hargraves, and attractive indeed). , hang out with his best friend, Kyle (Jamie Marsh) and converse over Horror as he reads Fangoria and dabbles in Horror memorabilia (hmm, not a bad life). Even his phone kicks ass. It’s a computerized Igor that answers “yes, master,” as it calls each voice commanded number by first name and screen displayed picture. What more could the little f*cker ask for?
Kyle shows him a video game in the new issue of Fangoria, “the one with the bulging eyeballs (that would be the Total Recall issue. I have it, but there was no ad as advertised in the issue prior)” Kyle goes on about how this is the sickest game ever and Michael had to buy it (and let Kyle try it when he was done). This later causes turmoil between the two best friends. Michael gives the toll free ordering number, 1-800-555-FEAR a call. A voice first answers the phone that Michael thinks is a recording, until it repeats his name and starts telling him about the game. Still, Michael is not amused (as when Kyle first hyped the game to him, as Michael was trying to spy on Kim). “He’s played them all.” The voice tells him he has never played anything like this as it sends a mysterious jolt of electricity like energy, surging through Michael. He looked as he were being executed in old sparky. The voice tells Michael that his version has been chosen (“Death by Design”) and the first disc would be arriving soon… His parting words are… “enjoy the fear.”
Michael is shocked, but still skeptical. He calls the number back and it is busy. The next day in the mail, the game arrives. Michael plays and is astonished. He calls Kyle to tell him how right he was. The game was awesome. It was murder and it felt so real. He could still feel his hands shaking as he ended the game. Soon, the murders in the game identically take place within Michael’s own neighborhood. One by one, another neighbor is killed and Michael becomes the spotlight of investigation. He had also showed up to two prior crime scenes.
Michael sees now that the game is real and does not want to play anymore. This wasn’t a game, it was actually murder. As Michael tries to bail on the game, Trickster, the voice behind the number and game, comes to influence Michael into finishing the game before the authorities finished him. Trickster then informs him that he has to cover his tracks in the second level. Then finally, kill off the witnesses. For Michael, this is the hardest part. . Michael retaliates, then decides to turn himself in To find that out, just remember… watch the movie, I give no spoilers. A favorite one liner of mine that Trickster used was”It’s not about sex… It’s about death, death, deaaath.”
The acting is well done and the characters are colorful in a teenage sort of way. The score of background music is dark and it also has tracks within the film by Primus (Welcome to this world) and White Zombie (Thunder kiss 65). The special effects are awesome, because they are mostly practical(being a film based on and around a video game, such as The Lawnmower Man). The gore effects were gruesomely well done. A severed foot gag was my personal favorite. This film was based off of a video game called Brainwaves. After the film’s theatrical run in the United States, the game was re-released in Europe as Brainscanners. I recommend this film to anyone that hasn’t seen it already. I believe it is available on dvd now. I need to get a copy. My vhs is getting worn. FOUR HORNS UP… and “Enjoy the fear.”