It’s been a long time since I’ve seen The Fury (1978) or Scanners (1981), but The Mind’s Eye, the new movie from Joe Begos (Almost Human) feels an awful lot like the offspring of the two. Since we don’t see a lot of movies about telekinesis these days, I decided to embrace it as something new rather than something that borrows from material 35+-years old.
In fact, I’d call it a loving tribute to the films from an era when people (mostly children and teenagers) with telekinetic/psychokinetic powers dominated the horror and science fiction genres. From The Power in 1968 to Scanners, I count at least 21 movies where characters with psychic powers wreaked havoc. Only a handful, though, included the component of government study or intervention.
Contributing to the feeling of homage rather than derivation is the style of The Mind’s Eye. In particular, the score by Steve Moore is late-70s/early-80s synth, with more than a hint of John Carpenter. Interestingly, the story takes place in the early 1990s, so it has the visual style of a movie from that era. All of this is to say that the combination of retro aesthetics with a story we haven’t seen in a long time makes watching it an entertaining experience.
Title cards at the very beginning of The Mind’s Eye tell us everything we need to know about the set-up:
By the end of the 1980’s there were over 125 reported cases of psychokinesis in the United States.
In an effort to weaponize this phenomena, federal funding was approved for private research facilities to further study these individuals, and to guide them in realizing their full potential.
As time went on, the reports of psychokinetic resistance were becoming stronger. And deadlier.
With no build-up to discover this information for ourselves, the movie dives right in to its specific story and characters. The story is what you’d expect: those being imprisoned for study are going to revolt. This leaves its characters as the primary opportunity to add something fresh. I don’t know how well it succeeds at that, but I will say time is made for backstories and character development.
Zack Connors (Graham Skipper) is a hunted man. He’s one of the most powerful telekinetics and Dr. Michael Slovak (John Speredakos) wants him for his research. When he’s apprehended, an officer’s superior notices the officer is shaken up. “You know what you’re dealing with,” he says. “This one was different,” he replies. “I was scared.” He didn’t know, I guess, that all you have to do to slow him down is put a black bag over his head.
Slovak has a serum that will subdue Zack’s abilities with no adverse side effect. Therefore, even with the black bag removed, he’s unable to cause any harm. He tries, looking like he’s trying to force a particularly difficult bowel movement, and Slovak tells him, “You’re going to give yourself an aneurism. You should calm down.”
It turns out that Zack kind of wants to be there so he can spring Rachel Meadows (Lauren Ashley Carter), with whom he had a brief affair, and who is as powerful, if not more so, than Zack. Slovak convinces the two that if they stay and cooperate, he’ll let them be reunited. Ten months later, in February 1991, that still hasn’t happened and the real action begins…
That’s all I will say about the plot; none of this information spoils what happens next. If you find it a compelling premise, you’re already invested in what comes next. You can imagine the telekinetic fireworks that ensue. However, there’s somewhat of a twist… a byproduct of Slovak’s research… that complicates matters and gives The Mind’s Eye a specific villain to root against.
About halfway through the movie, I noticed its lighting. Scenes began having a blue tint throughout. At first, I thought it was natural color being cast, for example, from exterior nighttime light coming through the windows. But it became more consistent and may have had a purpose. When reds became more consistent, as well, I decided it must have been an artistic choice.
It wasn’t as obvious as blue equaling good and red equaling bad, that I could tell. It’s just a detail that makes The Mind’s Eye more visually interesting and adds something unique to a movie I liked quite a lot. Yeah, it’s bloody and gory, but I’m not sure as bloody and gory as it could have been. It exercises restraint and escalates to make those scenes, and the movie as a whole, more effective.