If imitation actually is the sincerest form of flattery, then Brian De Palma’s The Fury (1978) and David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981) can take the scrappy indie horror flick The Mind’s Eye as a huge compliment. It’s the sophomore feature from Joe Begos (after the well-received Almost Human); it’s a concise and fast-paced homage to the finest in early-’80s genre films; and it manages to mash sci-fi, horror, comedy, action, and even a little romance (!) into an oddly cohesive whole.
The plot almost feels like episode two of a soap opera in which all of the characters have telekinetic powers: Zack (Graham Skipper) and David (Matt Mercer) are being held captive by the nefarious Dr, Slovak (John Speredakos) but they can’t use their super-sensory powers on an escape attempt unless they can rescue Rachel (Lauren Ashley Carter) along the way. Also it seems that Dr. Slovak has been performing all sorts of disturbing experiments on both himself and his highly reluctant prisoners. And we haven’t even gotten to the arrival of Zack’s dad (Larry Fessenden), Slovak’s wide array of bloodthirsty henchman, or the romantic history between Zack and Rachel.
Once again: virtually all of these characters have some degree of telekinetic powers, which means that lots of scenes end with someone being slammed over the head with a desk or a lamp. And since most of the characters in The Mind’s Eye are plainly good or wildly evil, you can expect a whole lot of telekinetic carnage before all is said and done.
While this is most assuredly an homage/throwback/remix of a certain kind of movie from a very specific era, the flick never tips over into full-on silliness. (The humor is mostly dry, and that’s a nice switch; most movies of this variety are almost aggressively wacky.) It helps a lot that the whole ensemble is on the same page, tonally speaking, and of course it doesn’t hurt that Begos gives each of his archetypal characters something fun to do.
And “fun” is pretty much all The Mind’s Eye is shooting for. It’s not a broad satire like Manborg, nor is it a wild salute to b-movies like Turbo Kid, but The Mind’s Eye is an impressively on-point homage to the early films of Brian De Palma and David Cronenberg. While The Mind’s Eye is clearly crafted with DNA of old-school horror classics, it also stands on its own with a fast-paced plot, a rock-solid ensemble, and (best of all) some crazy new telekinetic ideas of its own.
Rating: 4 telekinetically active burritos out of 5
The Mind’s Eye premiered at Toronto International Film Festival and was screened for review at Fantastic Fest.
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