Filmmaker Joe Begos brought his last film – Almost Human – to TIFF’s Midnight Madness in 2013. It had that gritty, bare-bones vibe of low-budget, late 1970s / early 1980s films like Xtro but was far more enjoyable. Its creepy aesthetic and ambiguous narrative established Begos as someone to watch. Now he’s back with The Mind’s Eye, and if you liked Almost Human, you’re going to love this film.
Just like they did with Almost Human, Begos and his cast and crew have borrowed an idea from the glory days of ’70s and ’80s horror cinema – psychokinesis – and created something rare and special: a mind-bogglingly gory film that has heart, soul, and suspense, but is above all, unbelievably fun to watch.
Graham Skipper is once again the lead, and he brings the same working-class, everyman quality to Zack Connors that he brought to Seth Hampton in Almost Human. Jug Face‘s Lauren Ashley Carter is Zack’s love interest and fellow psychokinetic, Rachel, and she is also wonderfully appealing, with a spooky but sympathetic presence that fits the overall tone of the film. Larry Fessenden has a brief but meaty role as Zack’s ex-cop father and his scenes with Skipper are naturalistic and carry quite a punch.
What’s special about The Mind’s Eye is how slightly off-kilter everything seems. Despite our allegiances to Zack, Rachel, and the other victims of the malevolent Dr. Michael Slovak (portrayed with terrifying glee by Ti West regular John Speredakos), we still feel a little bit afraid of them.The film is set in the early 1990s and the production design follows suit; it’s believable without shoving the time period in our faces. The lighting and use of color–lots of shadows and red and green lighting–perfectly captures that feeling of retro-futurism, which is a tough line to straddle.
The practical effects are, quite simply, astonishing. Begos and company amp up the gore to Lucio Fulci levels of excess, but it all looks utterly real. The Mind’s Eye is a gorehound’s wet dream, but doesn’t sacrifice character or plot in the name of blood and guts (and brains).
The Mind’s Eye is what I thought Scanners (my least favorite David Cronenberg film) would be like before I actually saw it, but this film is also bolstered by the bleak, unsettling, wintry feeling of The Brood (my favorite Cronenberg film). I didn’t even know this was something I needed in my life until I saw The Mind’s Eye.
It’s a thoroughly enjoyable cinematic experience and horror fans would be fools not to fall in love with it. The Mind’s Eye is available on August, 5th 2016 Courtesy of RLJ Entertainment.