Like all of the VHS box art in the horror movie section of a defunct video store come to life, Joe Begos’s stylish, exploding-head-filled The Mind’s Eye is the latest genre film that owes a considerable debt to the horror of the 1970s and 80s. Playing out like a cross between Scanners and Firestarter, The Mind’s Eye follows a couple of crazy kids with psychokinetic abilities, and the deranged “normal” doctor who wants to exploit their powers for his own needs.
Zack Connors (Graham Skipper) and his girlfriend Rachel Meadows (Lauren Ashley Carter) are supremely powerful psychokinetics who can open locks, shatter glass, and, oh yeah, explode heads with their unchecked power. Separated from Rachel, Zack is drifting through the landscape like David Banner on The Incredible Hulk TV series when he catches the eye of Dr. Michael Slovak (John Speredakos). Slovak says he has Rachel back at his research institute, and that he can help Zack manage and even overcome his powers. Zack doesn’t seem to trust Slovak from the start but goes along anyway. Big mistake: Zack’s suspicions were correct, and Slovak is a bonafide nutjob who wants to chemically harvest that telekinetic power and put it to use. Soon, Zack and Rachel escape the prison-like institute and go on the run, with Slovak’s goons in hot pursuit.
That’s basically all there is to The Mind’s Eye as far as plotting goes, but writer-director Begos pulls out all the stops to make the film pop. Awash in harsh red and blue lights, there’s an undeniable style to this film that’s hard to beat. It’s all layered with an appropriately moody, synth-based score that keeps the film pounding along. Skipper and Carter make for a likable pair of super-freaks, with Carter in particular turning in a nice, intensely manic performance. Appearances by indie genre staples like Larry Fessenden and Noah Segan are brief, but welcomed. The only weak link in the cast is Speredakos. As the evil Dr. Slovak, Speredakos goes too over-the-top, even for a film punctuated with head explosions. This type of material calls for a certain level of hamminess, of course, but Speredakos takes it to the nth degree, not so much delivering his lines as spewing them. This brash, lunatic performance may work for some, but it left me cold.
The Mind’s Eye has enough old school charm and style to keep your heart racing. Begos, who also served as the film’s cinematographer, has a great eye for staging his horror and will no doubt go on to bigger and better things if someone hands him a bigger and better budget. For now, the down and dirty, grungy vibe The Mind’s Eye throws off is wickedly entertaining. This is the type of shocker tailor-made for the midnight movie crowd, rife with moments that will send hardcore retro horror fans into peals of joyous, appoving laughter. And the exploding heads ain’t too shabby either.