Original theatrical poster
|Directed by||John Flynn|
|Produced by||Michel Roy|
|Written by||Brian Owens|
Andrew Kevin Walker
|Music by||George S. Clinton|
|Edited by||Jay Cassidy|
Admire Productions Ltd.
|Distributed by||Triumph Films|
|April 22, 1994|
Brainscan is a 1994 American science fiction horror film directed by John Flynn and written by Brian Owens and Andrew Kevin Walker. The film stars Edward Furlong, Frank Langella, Amy Hargreaves, Jamie Marsh, and T. Ryder Smith. Music was composed by movie composer George S. Clinton.
A lonely boy named Michael Brower (Edward Furlong) lives an isolated existence in his absent father's mansion. Michael's mother was killed in a car accident, which also permanently injured his leg. From his bedroom window he spends his spare time watching his crush, a typical girl-next-door named Kimberly, who, unbeknownst to Michael, also feels the same way on him. A huge fan of horror films and video games, Michael's only friend is a similar-minded misfit named Kyle. They are members of a Horror Club at school, which the principal bans. Kyle tells Michael about a new, ultra-realistic game called Brainscan. Intrigued, Michael sends away for the first disc.
The game begins strangely, with a warning screen informing him that the experience has much in common with hypnotic suggestion. During his first experience with the game, Michael is encouraged to act as a psychopathic murderer by the game's host, an entity known as Trickster. In-game, Michael murders a stranger and takes his foot as a trophy. Later, he is horrified to discover that his victim in the game was a real person, and that the same murder also happened in the real world.
Kyle begs Michael to let him play the game, and Michael angrily rebuffs him. Later Michael is tormented by Trickster, who exits the game and plays a song by the musical group Primus in Michael's bedroom. Because he is a possible witness to the earlier murder, Trickster tells Michael he must play the second disc to kill the witness. Michael refuses at first, but eventually gives in. However, this time he has no memory of playing the game. He finds Kyle's necklace, bloody in his freezer and realizes he murdered Kyle.
Michael doesn't remember Kyle's murder and calls his house. The phone is answered by a policeman, Detective Hayden (Frank Langella). Michael becomes paranoid that he will be sent to jail. He is also continually annoyed by the presence of Trickster, who refuses to leave his home. Trickster ultimately instructs him to kill Kimberly.
At nightfall Michael sneaks into her room, but refuses to hurt her. Trickster reveals that he is actually the evil part of Michael. He possesses Michael, the struggle of which wakes Kimberly. Kimberly reveals she has been watching Michael as well and has taken pictures, which allows him to break free from his own inner darkness. At the last minute, the Trickster materializes and opens the bedroom door. Detective Hayden enters and shoots Michael dead.
Michael awakens in his room. He discovers that the whole experience was a fantasy. After a short outburst of rage, ranting at the game for his traumatic experiences, he excitedly realizes that Kyle is still alive and that nothing in the game happened in the real world. His experience with the game's iteration of Kimberly gives him confidence, and he goes over to her house and asks her out, which she replies with a shy "maybe" before giving him a kiss.
The next day, Michael brings the Brainscan disc to school to show the principal, since he demanded to review all games and movies before allowing them to be played. It is implied that the principal will have the same nightmarish experience as Michael when Trickster appears behind the principal.
John Flynn later recalled:
The main interest for me was the Trickster character (a cadaverous Alice Cooper-like entity who materializes from a CD-ROM computer game - Ed.). The Trickster was the core of the movie and what attracted me to the script. We found this stage actor (T. Ryder Smith) to play the Trickster and he was extraordinary. Eddie Furlong was a 15-year-old kid who couldn't act. You had to "slap him awake" every morning. I don't want to get into knocking people, but I was not a big Eddie Furlong fan.
The film's soundtrack features hard rock, grunge, and heavy metal from then-emerging bands. Amongst the bands featured on the soundtrack are Mudhoney, White Zombie, OLD, Dandelion, Primus, Tad, Pitchshifter and the Butthole Surfers. It also featured the film's main title theme from George S. Clinton's score.
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Critical reception was mostly negative. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a "Rotten" rating of 21%, based on 14 reviews.Entertainment Weekly gave Brainscan a "D" rating, and stated "Despite the lurid premise, Brainscan offers zero in the way of sick thrills".