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.

REVIEW: Stay Alive (2006)



Stay Alive: F

Released in the mid 2000’s to try and hitch on to the popularity of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill train, Stay Alive presents a premise that is both boring, unoriginal, flawed, and basically awful. The movie begins with some hardcore gamer who is beta testing a new game called “Stay Alive.” While playing the game his character dies by being hung from a chandelier, and about six minutes later, fuckin surprise, he dies in real life by being hung from a chandelier.

Soon we meet the main character “Hutch” and his GF “October” who is the hot video game playing emo chick designed to suck in all the lonely Everquest players who have never seen a pair of tits, and 12 year kids. Hutch’s crew also consists of a drug ravaged Frankie Muniz and another hot blonde whose name I have already forgotten. While sitting around one day, Hutch receives a copy of “Stay Alive” in the mail so he and his crew start gaming and soon they are trapped in the video game world of Count Elizabeth Bathory, and they learn the awful truth that if you die in the game, you die in real life.

From here the internal logic of the movie is shattered repeatedly as characters that do not die in the game, do die in real life and characters that do die in the game do not die in real life. Other ridiculous flaws include Hutch being investigated by the city police force, and despite the fact that he is around all of the victims as they perish and he has no legitimate alibis he is not once even brought in for questioning let alone marked as the prime suspect.

Eventually Hutch and the nameless Blonde chick somehow find out that the origin of the game is the home of Liz Bathory in Louisiana, so they go there to solve the mystery yet all we get to do is watch Frankie Muniz’s video game character run around in PS2 quality graphics while Hutch digs through old dressers.

About 1/8 of the movie is video game screen shots that look outdated for 1996 let alone 2006. The PG-13 rating also means that we get a lot more digital gore then actual gore as most kills are either implied or done off screen. Overall this movie is absolute garbage.