Fantastic Fest review: THE MIND’S EYE

minds2013’s ALMOST HUMAN showcased not only the talents of director Joe Begos, actor/editor Josh Ethier and actor Graham Skipper, but a genuine love for all things John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. The gory body invasion film caught people off guard during its festival run and when released, it quickly became a film that genre lovers really wanted to stand behind. It had gore, it had that early ’80s Carpenter vibe, and it also had a really fun and interesting story. When a filmmaker excites genre fans like that, the “what film will they do next, and will it be as good?” question is a constant, sometimes for the best and unfortunately, sometimes for the worse. After witnessing the U.S. premiere of Begos’ follow up, the telekenisis splatterfest THE MIND’S EYE, that question is answered, and fright fanatics,…it’s one hell of a ride.

Taking place in the first couple of years of the ’90s, THE MIND’S EYE lets its viewers know right upfront what kind of film they’re in for. An explanation detailing how telekinisis has become somewhat of a secret yet common occurance within special people is given, right before we meet the film’s protagonist, Zack Connors (Graham Skipper). Walking down the street, wanting to be left alone, it doesn’t take long for the police to show up and hassle Connors, and when they begin to harass him, his eyes open wide, his concentration goes to a maximum and the windows explode, until he is knocked out. Forced into a secret program by the obviously ill-willed Dr. Michael Slovak (John Speredakos), Connors is the subject of many tests and his powers are kept at bay by a daily injection. While Slovak promises Connors that he not only has Zack’s lost telekinitec girlfriend Rachel Meadows (DARLING/JUG FACE‘s Lauren Ashley Carter) in possession as well, that unless he plays by the rules, he’ll never see her again.

The film’s setup is one that is able to sink its hooks into you as a viewer and really let you know that you’re in for a fun time, a fun time that becomes completely insane, when Zack and Alex, a fellow telekinitec housemate (played CONTRACTED‘s Matt Mercer), realize that they’re beginning to develop a tolerance to the injections and break Rachel out, resulting in an all out war between Zack and Slovak that lasts the rest of the film, with Zack’s powers growing and Slovak having quite a few tricks up his sleeve.

What’s very apparent with THE MIND’S EYE, is how much fun Begos and Co. are having with their audience, and while some peoplemight be quick to yell SCANNERS, it’s obvious that Joe loves certain films and is able to create his own stories and worlds that don’t lift, but pay homage to films like the aforementioned Cronenberg classic. Heads explode, bodies get split in two, and the film’s second half becomes a complete splatterfest, but there’s such a level of humor and excitement to the film, that it never takes itself too seriously. It’s a rollercoaster of a genre film, full of GREAT special effects, standout performances from Skipper and Carter (their chemistry is quite good) and a who’s who of familiar faces all inhabiting this Cronenberg meets Empire-era Charles Band film.

Seeing such a huge cast of actors playing roles big and small in the film (Noah Segan, Larry Fessenden, Josh Ethier, Brian Morvant,..even former Fangoria/Shock Till You Drop mainstay Sam Zimmerman shows up) makes the film standout even more that it already did, because you can tell that they all believed in the film the ability that Begos has to tell fun and gory tales that never feel contrived whatsoever. THE MIND’S EYE is like the splatterfest films that you grew up loving, ones that you would wear out from playing too much, and would run out to pickup again. I can see this film really getting embraced by genre fans, with its gory and gruesome effects, excellent red and blue lighting, and the passion for the creating the ultimate midnight movie that is apparent in the film. Hold onto your heads because this film will blow them the hell off.