REVIEW: Brainscan (1994)


Brainscan: C+

Edward Furlong (you know, Jon Connor) plays Michael, the ultimate 1990’s teenage loner. He lives in this awesome 90’s loft where he plays video games, wears flannels, and admires the purloined street signs that decorate his room. Even though it’s 1994, his computer is some really advanced Jarvis-type setup that talks to him and recognizes his voice commands for stuff like light switches and phone calls. But he rarely turns the light on or calls anyone because he is such a melancholy 90’s grunge gamer.

His new video game, Brainscan, does some pretty evil shit: As soon as Michael pops the game in, it summons a new playmate, this guy who calls himself “Trickster.” He has this kind of Drop Dead Fred / Beetlejuice / British Invasion thing going on. He looks like a zombie troll doll who plays keyboards for the Rolling Stones. He teleports around and acts like Ace Ventura while he goads Michael into playing Brainscan and progressing through the levels. He says many horrible puns/jokes.

The game itself consists of a combination of hypnosis and virtual reality and the only objective of each level is to commit a murder and not get caught. Michael slips into a trance and experiences extremely realistic 1st person POV game play where he stalks/stabs people. When he wakes up, he’s all sweaty and scared, like how he’ll be when he finally kisses a girl.

Then he finds clues (like body parts in the fridge and Detective Frank Langella snooping) that reveal that the murders are all real and the game is turning him into a serial killer. “Oh, man! What have I done?!” exclaims Michael to fucking no one except his computer butler. Trickster just ROFLs at Michael and convinces him to play more levels, which he does for some reason. His Brainscan kills start adding up. He even murders his only friend and gets pretty close to killing the babe who lives next door.

The plot gets real sloppy. Trickster says he actually is Michael but he has also been possessing Michael and making him murder. Possessing… yourself? What the fuck? There’s a lot of reality “layers” too, which to me, is always the cheapest cop out in a horror movie. Is it all a dream? Or is it all a dream but really just a game? But does that make it real if the game is real? A dream within a dream within a game that is real? But it’s not real, is it?

It’s all a game. It’s all a dream. Whatever. The kills are cool. The 90’s mania is hilarious. The primitive graphics are entertaining. They don’t rely on CGI. There is gore. There is only one good jump-scare in the movie. I promise you’ll know what I mean.

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