THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"THE MIND'S EYE"
The Mind's Eye was clearly influenced by the early works of David Cronenberg, particularly his outstanding 1981 film Scanners. Writer/director Joe Begos (Almost Human) captures that same mixture of gory, telekinesis-based horror and subtle dark comedy. That's not to say that the movie doesn't stand on its own. While the tone may be inspired by something from the past, the sensibility is actually quite modern. There's not a ton of depth to The Mind's Eye, but as a punchy, gruesomely funny horror movie, it succeeds quite well.
Graham Skipper (Beyond the Gates) plays Zack Connors, a man with psychokinetic abilities. He's captured by Michael Slovak (John Speredakos), an ethically-challenged doctor looking to extract such powers from people who have them so he can inject them into himself. Zack knows that old friend Rachel Meadows (Darling's Lauren Ashley Carter) is also being held captive by Slovak. Together, they try to escape his clutches using their skills. The doctor proves to be unrelenting in his attempts to keep them in his grasp, though.
The Mind's Eye has a whole lot of fun with the idea of extreme mental power. Zack and Rachel can move objects with their minds, like lobbing a chair at someone who's trying to attack them. They can make an armed assailant turn the gun on himself. And when Zack gets really mad, he can use his abilities to tear bodies apart in myriad nasty ways. Begos has a lot of fun coming up with creatively sick ways of having his characters exhibit what they're capable of.
The gore certainly gets cranked up to insane levels, but The Mind's Eye also keeps a sense of humor about itself. Because the plot deals with mental telepathy, many of the confrontational scenes – especially the final standoff between Zack and Slovak – entail people staring at each other really, really hard. Shots of this happening sometimes go on a few seconds longer than necessary, just so we know the movie isn't taking itself too seriously. Similarly, some of the most violent deaths are so purposefully over-the-top that they elicit guilty chuckles.
Stories of this type can easily become silly. That doesn't happen here, in large part because of the two leads. Graham Skipper and Lauren Ashley Carter are both talented actors with respectable horror credentials. They play the material with dedication, creating characters we root for and who feel authentic. With the stars providing that all-important grounding, The Mind's Eye is free to reach for crazier ideas without tipping over into camp.
Even at just eighty-seven minutes, there are moments when the movie feels like it's repeating itself just a tiny bit. But by and large, The Mind's Eye is a really fun throwback to the cerebral, inventively gory horror of a previous era. It's definitely one of the year's more notable genre titles.
( out of four)
The Mind's Eye is unrated, but contains graphic violence and gore, language, and some sexuality. The running time is 1 hour and 27 minutes.
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