Horror Movie Review: Brainscan (1994)

Brainscan is a horror film that was directed by John Flynn, releasing in 1994. It stars Edward Furlong as Michael Bower, a boy who lives an isolated existence in his absent father’s house. Michael has an obsession with death and horror. One day he comes into possession of a video game called Brainscan that allows the player to live out their wildest murderous fantasies. However, Michael soon learns that his actions in the game are much more realistic than he’d like.

Michael’s mother was killed in a car accident, which permanently injured his leg. From his bedroom window he spends his spare time watching his crush, a typical girl-next-door named Kimberly. During his first experience with Brainscan, Michael is encouraged to act as a psychopathic murderer. The game is hosted by 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.

Later Michael is tormented by Trickster, who exits the game. Trickster tells Michael he must play the second disc to kill the witness of his first murder. Michael refuses at first, but eventually gives in. However, this time he has no memory of playing the game. He finds his best friend Kyle’s necklace, bloody in his freezer and realizes he murdered Kyle.

From this point on things continue to spiral further and further beyond Michael’s control. Trickster relentlessly torments and pushes him towards a fate that he may never return.

Brainscan is a mixed bag. Firstly, let’s talk about Edward Furlong. According to information freely available on the internet, he was difficult to work with. The director has publicly stated his annoyance at getting Furlong to perform adequately in the role of Michael. Whatever he did, he failed. Furlong is wooden throughout. You can tell he’s trying his best but it just doesn’t come out too well. Michael is actually a fairly complex character, he has a lot of trauma but Furlong fails to capture any real emotion.

There’s what feels like a significant plotline involving Michael’s mother and a fear of blood that goes literally nowhere. The effects throughout are decent but it’s quite a tame affair on the whole which is disappointing.

Without a doubt the strongest aspect of this film is Trickster. The prosthetic used on him looks great and the actor playing the role is clearly having a fun time. Brainscan is at its best when he’s on screen.

The plot is convoluted to say the least when in truth, it should be straightforward. Michael is clearly supposed to be bonded to Kyle & Jennifer but you barely see anything between them on screen.

The ending is just super strange. It sort of does an “it was all a dream” type thing but then backtracks on that in a way that only furthers confusion.

Brainscan is quite bland on the whole which sucks because it had potential. It ends up feeling like a feature length episode of Are you Afraid of the Dark. There is some 90s appeal to be found and the soundtrack is decent. It’s worth a shot, at least for Trickster.

  • The Final Score - 4/10
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