Oh Edward Furlong…what a nut. I mean this guy was unleashed on the world in one of the biggest films of the 90’s…but then things kind of went sour. He seemed to jump back and forth between prestige pics and B-grade horror films and eventually started spending more time in the tabloid pages than at the top of the box office. Today we find Furlong in an early 90’s horror flick that shows us the true danger of video games. It’s 1994’s Brainscan.
Furlong plays Michael, a high school kid who is a bit obsessed with horror films. He even leads a horror club at his school which has recently been banned by the principal. Oh, and he also spends a lot of time crushing on his next door neighbor, Kimberly (Amy Hargreaves) who he watches as she undresses through his video camera each night…and she’s well aware of it. One day, Michael’s best bud Kyle (Jamie Marsh) tells him about a new horror video game he saw advertised in Fangoria called Brainscan. Michael calls the number in the ad and the next thing he knows a copy of the game shows up in his mailbox the next day.
Michael pops in the game which has the premise of putting the player into the eyes of a killer. In the game he breaks into a house and stabs a sleeping man to death. He then severs a foot as a souvenir. The next day, he learns from a local news report that, what d’ya know, the murder actually happened. The foot is even in his freezer. When he gets the second game disk in the mail, of course he doesn’t want to play. This prompts the appearance of a wild-haired creep calling himself the Trickster (T. Ryder Smith). He forces Michael to continue with the game and the next victim ends up being his pal Kyle. Soon, Michael becomes a suspect of the police, led by Det Hayden (Frank Langella). Meanwhile, the Trickster keeps toying with Michael, more victims pile up, and now Kimberly is lined up to be the final victim.
I admit, I wasn’t expecting much out of Brainscan. I mean it looked pretty silly, especially with it’s bizarre looking villain. He looks a bit like a cross between F. Murray Abraham and Carrot Top. So imagine my surprise when I actually kind of enjoyed this film. It’s clear that the filmmakers were trying to create a new Freddy Krueger with this Trickster guy. He’s got a strange look and is a bit fond of wisecracks. However, T. Ryder Smith brings a good balance of creepy and silly to the character. It did bug me a bit, though, that the character pretty much stays confined to MIchael’s attic bedroom. We really don’t see him out and about in the rest of the world…he’s just chillin’ at Furlong’s place.
Speaking of Furlong…he’s…okay, I guess. If you find him annoying in Terminator 2, well you’re probably not going to be that much more fond of him here. He does fit this role, though, so in the context of this story he does succeed on a certain level. I did like our female lead, Amy Hargreaves. She’s that kind of girl next door that most guys wish they had when they were teenagers. A bit out of place, though, in this cast is Frank Langella. He spends most of the movie looking like he can’t believe he signed on for this thing. Can’t say I blame him for a certain level of frustration, since his detective character is the standard stereotypical disbelieving cop we’ve seen time and time again.
I do think the film does have a fairly original premise which is executed in a way that may not be the most skillful, but is pretty entertaining. There’s actually a part of me that would’ve liked to see this Trickster character come back for another round of hijinks. His hair alone is worth the price of admission.