Stars: Graham Skipper, Lauren Ashley Carter, John Speredakos, Larry Fessenden, Noah Segan, Matt Mercer, Michael A. LoCicero, Jeremy Gardner, Patrick M. Walsh, Brian Morvant, Josh Ethier, Susan T. Travers | Written and Directed by Joe Begos
Back in 2014 first-time director Joe Begos exploded on the horror scene with Almost Human, an alien abduction movie drenched in 80s flair. Now he’s back with his second feature, The Mind’s Eye, another film that’s not afraid to wear its love of 80s horror on its sleeve. In this case referencing the work of David Cronenberg and Brian De Palma, and films like the Scanners franchise, Carrie and the classic telekinetic fear flick The Fury.
Confession time: I’m not the biggest fan of David Cronenberg’s Scanners. If not for exploding head scene and the final battle between Revok and Vale, the film would be a very dull futuristic thriller. However I adore the shot-in-Canada sequels released in the 90s, especially Scanner Cop and its sequel – a film which shares remarkably similar overtones with The Mind’s Eye. And that’s the thing I love about Begos’ work – it comes from the same time and place in horror fandom as my love for the genre does.
The Mind’s Eye is set in snowy 1990 New England (which makes for some fun scenes of the cast trying to run through 2/3 foot deep snow), follows Zack Connors, a telekinetic fugitive, who can move and destroy objects with his mind. Picked up by the authorites and admitted into a research institute run by the sinister Doctor Slovak, despite promises he’ll be reunited with his girlfriend Rachel with whom he shares similar abilities, the diabolical medic is using his patients to create a synthetic mind-control serum for his own power-crazed use.
Once again filmed on a low budget, using a lot of the same actors from his first film (aka Begos’ friends) The Mind’s Eye is a return to an era of cinema that has, even in horror circles, faded into obscurity – the fantastical fear flick. You just don’t get telekinetic horror movies these days – I don’t know why? Maybe its because humanity no longer needs “powers” to be evil, there’s plenty of twisted folk in society that are reflected in horror these days? Or maybe it’s that all those Carrie remakes have drained the sub-genre of any excitement?
Styled like a film from another era, right down to the synth soundtrack and Videodrome-esque titles credits, The Mind’s Eye is also jam-packed with practical and VERY gory special effects: head explosions, decapitations, and festering, pulsating veins. The kinds of pratical effects work that underage Fangoria readers, like myself, used to drool over, anticipating the day we could watch such gory delights for ourselves.
If Begos has upped his game when it comes to FX, his cast have upped their’s too; with Graham Skipper – the lead in Almost Human and the hero of The Mind’s Eye – knocking it out of the park with his portrayal of Zack Connors. He manages to walk a fine line between vulnerability/fragility and out and out psychic madman, without ever hamming it up. Which could have been a real problem when it comes to the telekinetic battles he takes part it. Instead Skipper imbues Connors with an constant emotional core, there’s always a sadness to everything Connors does, even when blowing peoples minds! It’s a good job he’s stepped up his game too – Begos’s film is packed with familiar and exalted horror faces, including Noah Segan (Deadgirl), Jeremy Gardner (The Battery) and current indie-king Larry Fessenden as Zack’s dad.
Whilst Almost Human wasn’t perfect I did adore it, and I had my doubts that Begos could top his Carpenter-esque debut. How wrong could I be? The Mind’s Eye is essential viewing for fans of 80s horror, and those who love a good bit of gore with their telekinesis!