When Michael, a lonely teenager (Edward Furlong), orders the latest interactive video game, the new high-tech wizardry penetrates his subconscious, where his darkest impulses lead him through a deadly maze of murder, deception and desire. Pursued by homicide detective (Frank Langella) and prodded by “The Trickster” (T. Ryder Smith) who materializes into his room, Michael is torn between the worlds of good and evil, of reality and fantasy and, ultimately, life and death.
Brainscan is a title that myself, and plenty other collectors, have been requesting on Blu-ray, either by Scream Factory, or honestly any label at all, for a long time. Most assumed Scream would be the ones to do it, and here we are. Brainscan is a movie that was way ahead of its time. Many movies have tried to capture the same magic, and failed, this videogame-come-to-life subgenre of horror. Something about Brainscan just landed, and stuck. Perhaps it was just the right ingredients, the right talent, but it works. The story follows Michael Brower(Edward Furlong), a rich kid with all the Nineties technology one could need. Michael is turned onto a new horror game, Brainscan, in the pages of Fangoria. After his first game, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur.
Brainscan is one of those movies I would watch repeatedly as a younger horror fan. Upon its release in 1994, I would have been around 15, and most definitely fit within the parameters of this movie’s demographic. In addition to horror, I was also a super nerd for computers, and technology as a whole. So I was geeking out over Michael’s setup. This movie was so ahead of its time, that it featured something very similar to the Amazon echo, almost twenty years before its release. Home consumption of the internet was in its infancy, but movies like Brainscan showed us things beyond our wildest dreams that could be accomplished with it. On top of the techo-porn, also featured are random horror references, including posters, and as mentioned above Fangoria magazine.
The story is engaging, and never bores. We follow a twisted web of murder and mayhem, and blur the lines of reality. When murders from the game become true in the real world, of course Michael is the key suspect, especially after being spotted at a couple of the crime scenes by Detective Hayden, played by Frank Langella. Also in the picture is Trickster, a sort of living embodiment of the game that showed up shortly after Michael played the first game. Trickster is all about the murder, and works continuously to keep Michael on task, playing the game, and urging him to drop bodies that could be considered a “witness” to the murders.
Brainscan held up surprisingly well. There is some dated CGI effects, but otherwise the movie is just as effective as it was upon its initial release. More so, maybe, now that some of the Sci Fi technology from the movie has started to come to life. It’s a trip to revisit this movie, for technological reasons alone. I’ve been waiting for Brainscan to hit the HD format for a really long time. I was worried I wouldn’t like it as much as I did when I was younger, but I think I actually enjoyed it a bit more.
Brainscan is not a Scream Factory Collector’s Edition. It has enough bonus content to be considered as such, but I think the main thing that held it back was the fact that there is no restoration work here. There was an HD master at the studio, and minor tweaks aside, that seems to be largely what is featured on this Blu-ray. This isn’t a negative thing, the movie looks great, but no new scan was done, so we get a standard Blu-ray instead of a Collector’s Edition. The audio is presented in the form of a Stereo DTS-HD MA track, and the video is presented as an AVC-encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1.
To my knowledge, I never owned Brainscan on DVD. If I did, I never watched it. The extras here seem to be mostly new. There are some deleted scenes, trailers and a still gallery that look to be ported over from some previous release, but the bulk of the bonus content is brand new. All new interviews with cast and crew, and there are enough of them to consider this disc as having a full on retrospective documentary, which is great for fans of the film such as myself. Scream Factory’s Brainscan Blu-ray is highly recommended. You may purchase a copy yourself by visiting the Shout! Factory website. See a complete listing of details and extras below.