Movie: Brainscan (1994)

Edward Furlong should have gone on to great things following 1991’s T2.  Instead, that movie may have had a touch of the jinx of the Star Wars movies, as those largely did little for the actors in them that didn’t already have established careers.  In case you haven’t noticed it, nobody has been clamoring to cast Hayden Christensen in anything lately.

But how could only three years have passed between the time Furlong was in what may possibly be the greatest action movie of all time, and 1994, when he starred in the low-budget horror trash that is Brainscan?

He plays the teenage version of a kid we saw in the opening credits who loses his mom in an auto accident.  We also see in a brief, gory shot the shattered knee he incurred in the accident.  The loss of his mom barely factors in the story.  As for the knee, he occasionally walks with a limp while he appears to have forgotten it in other scenes.  It’s an injury that conveniently comes into play only when he needs to do something like awkwardly hobble away from a crime scene.

The crimes he commits occur while he is under the influence of a “revolutionary” new CD-ROM horror game.  It doesn’t seem like much a game to me.  In the first installment, we watch from his perspective as he sneaks into a house at night, selects a knife from the kitchen and uses it to stab some guy to death in his sleep.  He also cuts off the guy’s foot.  It was no surprise when we discover he really killed somebody in a house near his when he thought he was only playing a game. 

I keep waiting for nostalgia for the 1990s to kick into high gear and, when it does, I wonder if anybody will be enamored with how that era envisioned computer technology of the near future.  Here, Furlong has a voice-operated PC program that dials and answers the phone for him.  Given his setup enables some sort of cyber-demon called The Trickster (T. Ryder Smith) to come through his television into the real world, I wondered if Furlong could have avoided a great deal of trouble by simply using a typical, uncomplicated touch-tone phone.

The Trickster is one of those self-aware, “funny” boogeymen we had to put up with for a decade or two after we were introduced to Freddy Krueger.  I wish I had as much fun watching Smith as he appears to have had while hamming it up as this character.  It’s almost like he wants to be a more threatening Beetlejuice, but I found him neither intimidating nor funny.  Here’s some sample dialog, when he goes through all the tortures he is willing to endure: “Just no county and western music, please.  Every man has his limits.”  That’s probably the best line he has, and that is chuckle-worthy, at best.

Others in the cast include Frank Langella, who seems bored to be playing a textbook police detective.  Jamie Galen plays Furlong’s slightly stupid best friend, in the kind of role Seth Green would almost monopolize shortly after this.  Amy Hargreaves plays the literal girl-next-door who Furlong is so in “wuv” with that he covertly films her from his window while she’s undressing each night.

That’s right, our hero is a creepy perv, though the movie positions him as being a lovelorn sad sack whom we should pity.  In addition to being a Peeping Tom…um, Peeping Edward, he also keeps calling her and immediately hanging up.  I’m sure the only thing a teenage girl enjoys more than that is guys who call and just breathe some before hanging up.

There will be a twist ending with a fundamental logical flaw that has sunk better movies than Brainscan, and I won’t say anything more about that.  Suffice to say, it capped off a sub-par viewing experience for me, and I didn’t even go in with any expectations.  Just like the titular game that isn’t much of a game, this is a movie that isn’t much of a movie.

Dir: John Flynn

Starring: Edward Furlong, T. Ryder Smith, Frank Langella

Watched on Mill Creek blu-ray (paired with Mindwarp, which was bad enough for me to bail at roughly the half-way point)