Ahh, video games. A world I would often escape to as a child, and still do to this day. Where else can you be a commando, a plumber, a young boy on a quest to save the world or genetically modified person who listens to anyone who asks “would you kindly?” Michael Brower is just like any one of us; A young man who wants to escape his boring life and become something he’s not. He runs a horror club at school which has just gotten shut down, and he doesn’t really have much to live for since he mom was killed in a horrible car accident. Luckily his best friend Kyle has found just the right thing. He shows Michael a magazine advertisement for the latest and greatest in interactive video games: Brainscan!
When he calls to place an order for the Brainscan disc, he finds that the operator seems to know a lot about him, and that the game will be tailored to him for a unique experience. He decides that there really isn’t anything to lose, so when the first disc arrives, Michael (Eddie Furlong) excitedly enters the world of Brainscan. The game uses a series of light strobes and sound pulses to put him in a trance like state. He is then able to enter the mind of a killer, who’s first task is to break in and murder an innocent man in his sleep. But in order to make the experience more gruesome, the killer takes the foot of his victim as proof and he must keep it in a safe place. Once the deed is done he wakes up exhilarated, feeling as though he just committed a murder and he can’t wait to tell Kyle all about the experience.
The next day Michael sees on the news that there was a horrible murder in his quiet town, and the location of said murder looks extremely familiar. In fact, it’s the murder he witnessed inside the Brainscan game. When he gets a call from the Brainscan central office, Michael discovers that the foot the killer cut off the victim is actually in his freezer. Add to that a strange, red-haired Mohawk wearing man named Trickster morphing in from his TV, and Michael begins to realize that this wasn’t just a game. Now he has to tie up all the loose ends from the first murder by continuing to play Brainscan, and by murdering more people and taking care of the eyewitnesses who can connect him to the crime. Can Michael really control himself or this game? Does he have the power to save the people he loves? Is all of this really happening?
Monkeyface: So let me get this straight, young John Connor Michael Brower is the smartest 16 year old alive because he has a computer program that accepted voice commands in 1994. It’s a pretty sweet setup for a kid, and on top of that his dad is off on business trips all the time so he gets to spy on the neighbor girl Kimberly all the time. He’s the typical loner: 1 friend, loves weird shit like horror movies, pines over a girl he’s too scared to talk to, wants out of his mundane life. Sounds like a killer to me!
Sean: If that sounds like a killer, maybe we should stop hanging out! Anyhow, I remember seeing this in the theater when it came out and I was super jealous of Mike’s setup. I mean this kid’s got the works! And, he’s got a hot neighbor that shows off her boobies to him whenever she knows he’s video taping her with the telescopic lens. I’ve got two words to say about that… “Boner Time”
Monkeyface: Back to the first murder… Trickster tells him to put the foot in a safe place, so he chooses the fridge, on top of the TV dinner? Was the neighbors mailbox full? The story here seemed like a good one, and something that would be pretty terrifying if you were in Michael’s shoes. But I guess I just didn’t fully believe the way he slipped in and out of the video game. In fact later in the movie he never really slips out of it. He just shows back up at home and the clock for the game stops. So you could never really differentiate between game and real life.
Sean: I think the only time he actually escapes is the first time. Every other time it just so happens that he wakes up, doesn’t know how he got back, and there is still time on the clock. This kid should play professional basketball, because he’s a friggin buzzer beater and a half. I think as everything starts to melt together from him playing this game, you’re not supposed to differentiate between the game and reality. It’s sort of the point of the film. I mean is it realistic to expect some crazy psychopath to pop out of your tv with the worst red mohawk you’ve ever seen, who then breaks his fingers backwards and creates a cd-rom game from your blood that he got from scraping his razor sharp fingernails across your palm? If so, please point me to your dealer.
Monkeyface: This is one of those movies that Enemy and I disagree on. Maybe it’s because he had seen it when he was younger and I never did. But it just wasn’t that entertaining for me and the story could have been so much more clean cut. There was some really good music in there like Primus and White Zombie. Plus, who wants to start a horror club? Count me in; I wish we had one of those in high school when I was growing up. However, if I was playing this video game I would have turned it off after the first level. I give Brainscan 1.5 voice dialing “Igor” programs out of 5.
Sean: I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that this should be on masterpiece theater, but it’s far from horrible. Although the tech is absurdly far fetched, the story is at least a little interesting and Eddie Furlong is his normal ackward, horrible acting self. This is probably his best performance since Terminator 2, and that’s saying a lot (ever see The Crow: Wicked Prayer? *shudder*). I’m sure a lot of my reverence for this film springs from the fact that I did see this in the theater with about 3 other sad sacks on opening weekend, but who didn’t feel like the misfit at one point or another in their high school career? It perfectly captures the mid 90’s for me, and brings in two of my loves, horror movies and video games. And it cashed in on the whole “Virtual Reality” craze, and he has a cd-rom drive with a disc caddy! What’s not to love!? Brainscan is 3 loads of bricks falling on your high school principal out of 5.