Thursday, October 31, 2019

THE MIND'S EYE (2015) Blu-ray Review

Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 29
Total First Time Views: 15
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $2,400.04

The Mind’s Eye (2015) d. Joe Begos (USA) (87 min) (1st viewing)

It’s easy to dismiss and/or diminish writer/director Begos’ second feature merely as “a Scanners rip-off,” but it’s worth remembering that David Cronenberg did not invent the notion of a telekinetic monster (Carrie), nor the idea of an evil organization weaponizing such paranormal abilities nor even the spectacle of exploding body parts onscreen (The Fury did both three years earlier). As such, it seems a bit unfair not to at least acknowledge that Begos is doing quite a lot with a little (as was the case with his debut, Almost Human) and that his film does exactly what it sets out to do, which is to pay homage to what has gone before and tell his own version of the story. I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m a little surprised how many armchair critics have taken the film to task for its “lack of originality” when the horror genre is built upon endlessly recycled ideas and concepts.

First off, it’s worth pointing out that this ambitious, scrappy little effort marks a huge leap forward in terms of aesthetics and gory visual effects, many of which are realized practically. While Begos’ (who also served as cinematographer and camera operator) overuse of blue lighting gels does get a bit excessive by the halfway point, the flick looks fantastic, on par with most major studio efforts shot for exponentially more. Big points also to Steve Moore’s (The Guest, Cub) synthy ’80s musical score.

Where the venture falls short is in the writing and acting departments, both of which land solidly in the B-movie column. There is little to no subtlety on anyone’s part, and everyone plays their stock roles to the hilt. Producer Graham Skipper stars as Zack Connors, our ostensible psychokinetic protagonist, captured and imprisoned by Dr. Michael Slovak (John Speredakos, chewing allllll the scenery), the Evil Villain who has designs to train the mind-melting mutants while also siphoning off their spinal fluid and injecting it into his own neck to manifest their powers himself.

Naturally, Zack’s got a Scanner girlfriend, Rachel (Lauren Ashley Carter), and the two of them escape from the Slovak Institute and head for his dad’s (Larry Fessenden) to hide out. Slovak’s bad guys follow, fights ensue, people grimace at each other furiously, shots are fired, more grimacing, heads detonate, and everything builds up to a brain-bulging battle between the hero and the heavy.

If Skipper (Beyond the Gates) possessed a little more screen charisma (his bland adenoidal charms are lost on me) and if Speredakos (Wendigo) had been reined in a little (he’s so over the top we can’t see the bottom), I could see this having earned a bit more critical love. I’m also a little bummed that Jeremy Gardner, so wonderful in his own film, The Battery, is pretty much wasted here in a supporting lackey role. Carter (Jug Face, Gags the Clown) is fine, though her hysterics get a little old, while screen veteran Fessenden (Habit, We Are Still Here) is extremely well used, even employing the actor’s missing-in-real-life tooth to great effect!

Bottom line, to paraphrase one of the poster quotes, this is probably the best unofficial Scanners sequel we could have asked for, and I was not displeased. Thus far, in six years, Begos has made a alien body snatcher movie, a telekinetic flick, and a vampire venture (2019’s Bliss, seen at Cinepocalypse), and I’m eager to see what his latest, VFW, has to offer, since it will be his first time working with a script that is not his own. While he may not traffic in original ideas or nuance, what he does have is energy, enthusiasm, and visual style to burn, and that counts for a lot in my book.


Audio commentary with writer/director Joe Begos

Audio commentary with producers Joe Begos, Josh Ethier, Graham Skipper, and Zak Zeman

"A Look into the Eye of Madness" (28 min)

Poster Gallery

Theatrical Trailer

The Mind’s Eye is available now from RLJE Entertainment and can be ordered HERE:


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