The Mind’s Eye (2015)

It came as a bit of a surprise that I actually liked this one.

I didn’t think much of Joe Begos’ first film, Almost Human, about a man who is abducted by aliens then returns years later as something no longer human. It was meant as an homage to those old Eighties unstoppable killer films, but it was dark and bloody without much appeal.

So, even though the description of his second film sounded interesting, I never really felt like rushing out to see it. In fact, I’ve ignored it for quite a while, but decided on a sudden impulse to give it a try. After all, it isn’t fair to judge a filmmaker‘s work solely on the basis of one film.

Once again, this film is an homage to Eighties horror, to those almost forgotten days when there was a wave of films about deadly telepaths, from Brian DePalma’s Carrie and The Fury to Patrick, The Sender, The Medusa Touch, Firestarter, and especially to the film that is Mind’s Eye’s most obvious influence, Scanners.

A young telekinetic, Zack Connors, is searching for his girlfriend, Rachel, who also has telekinesis. He gets arrested but agrees to go to The Slovak Institute for Psychokinetics. Its Director, Dr Michael Slovak, claims that he has Rachel in his custody and gives Zack a drug that will block his powers and supposedly help him gain control of them.

Only he will not let Zack see Rachel, and Dr. Slovak is actually doing something far different from what he claims…

This is a very Eighties film. You can see that from the very beginning, as the credits look like they came straight out of some Eighties flick. Then there is the driving synth score which sounds suspiciously like one of those John Carpenter wrote for his own films. It isn’t actually set in the Eighties, but in 1990, as a lot of vaguely futuristic Eighties film have been. However, I did not notice any jarring anachronisms.

One of the things I like about this film is that there are some very clear limits to the telekinetics’ powers. They can only affect the things they can see, and they are rendered almost helpless by putting a bag over their heads. Moving things with their minds takes a lot of effort, and they definitely are not immune to bullets. Another interesting detail is that there is a hint of addiction to Slovak’s increasingly obsessive research, although it is not clear whether it is a physical one, or merely an increasing desire for power.

Mind’s Eye builds slowly, with its mysteries unraveling a little at a time until Zach and Rachel escape and Dr. Slovak sends his henchmen (and, yes, that’s the right word in such an Eighties film!) after them, including a fellow telekinetic who is now working for Slovak.

It all ends with a growing wave of violence and destruction as Slovak’s men attack and Zack returns to the Institute for the final battle. The gore gets more and more extreme as the film continues, although I have to wonder whether it is deliberately meant to look fake at times. It is hard to take the head cut in half down the middle seriously, even if we only see it for a instant. There are a few moments where one of the telekinetics is rising up in the air and there is a noticeable tremor as if they were having troubles working the cables supporting him — although, again, I have no idea whether this was deliberate or not.

One does, however, suspect that their budget must have been fairly low as the institute is just a collection of suburban houses with no obvious fence or grounds.

No matter how much it cost, though, this is an intense film, a classic B-Movie with an Eighties flavor, that may not break new ground with its somewhat familiar story, and isn’t quite as smart as the best of those older films, but still manages to drag the audience along for its wild ride. Yes, there are better stories featuring telekinetics, but I can’t think of any that have been made lately.  If you loved those films, then you will need to see this one.

So keep your eyes on the screen, grab a big tub of popcorn and don’t get too excited if it starts to levitate.

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