31 In 31: Brainscan

As with a lot of film review sites, I have decided to celebrate Halloween by reviewing one horror film a day for the entire month of October. The choosing of the films are in no discernible order and are just chosen for the fun of reviewing.

Now, let's get to the first horror film review of October.

As stated, the films have no real discernible order, which would explain this forgotten gem from 1994. Directed by John Flynn (Out For Justice, Lock Up) and co-written by Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven, Sleepy Hollow) Brainscan tells the story of Michael Brower, a lonely, horror-obsessed teenager who plays an interactive game called Brainscan. The game is an immersive experience depicting yourself killing someone then covering up the details.

Once completed with the first level of the game: the murder, Michael soon discovers that the murder is real. Unsure of what to do, a mysterious force known as Trickster (T. Ryder Smith) informs Michael that he needs to keep playing the game to avoid capture by a dogged detective (Frank Langella). Michael continues to play, not sure how to escape the madness and not sure how to save the ones he loves from the most dangerous man in the neighborhood... himself.

Playing with the mood of isolation and a great score by George S. Clinton, the film sets a tone from the beginning and never wavers. Andrew Kevin Walker's script never really lightens up with the exception of Trickster whose personality does not seem to fit with the much more somber feeling film.

Michael is shown from the beginning suffering a tragedy, then seeing that his father will be away from the house only adds to his loneliness  His only interactions are from his best friend Kyle (Jamie Marsh) and the neighborhood girl he spies on, Kimberly (Amy Hargreaves).

Edward Furlong turns in a decent performance as the lonely teenager, though he doesn't stretch his acting chops too much. Frank Langella portrays his detective as very serious and almost a little too robotic. This does not hinder the film, but borders on (what is probably true) an actor not caring much about this film. T. Ryder Smith's performance as Trickster is an interesting one. He acts as the character who gives Michael, and the audience, the rules of the film. He occasionally goes overboard, and as stated, really doesn't fit with the rest of the tone. Though one could argue that when Trickster shows up, the film can have a little fun instead of being dark and dreary (as you'd expect from a film written by Andrew Kevin Walker).

Overall, this forgotten film is a nice little gem. It wont rewrite the history books of the greatest horror films ever, but it will satisfy those who enjoy Andrew Kevin Walker and enjoy mid-90's cyber horror films.

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