The title of this David Cronenberg sci-fi horror film refers to a group of people who have telekinetic powers that allow them to read minds and give them the ability to make other people’s heads explode.
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That lead was wooden as fuck, i felt like i was watching Keanu Reeves great grandfather attempting to perform Macbeth on celluloid. HAL 9000 from 2001 could of conveyed more range of emotions and delivered a more life like performance than the ridiculously lackluster Mr. Lack(ing).
Early body revulsion piece from Cronenberg, although the greater horror is reserved for more sinister corporate and institutional controls (no less relevant now). Drawing on then-fashionable themes of telekinesis (Carrie, The Fury, etc) and broader conspiratorial motifs, it doesn't elaborate on the central conceit with the early promise giving way to a conventional thriller with little moral or scientific substance.
Dramatically cold, but the action, ideas, metaphors, and themes are strong. The scanners themselves are a symbol for mental health: as it's a cynical look at how humans are either prisoners of the system (when part of it) or themselves (when outcasted). Ostensibly a superhero film, but unlike the overtly sentimental superheroes of today, however, they can't deal with their gift and are thus destroyed by it.
This is an important link from Cronenberg's earlier movies with their horror and splatter elements (like "Shivers" and "Rabid") to the subsequent, more complex films. The sound design is great, especially regarding the sometimes almost psychedelic use of body sounds (during the best moments supported by Howard Shore's score and creating an uncomfortable atmosphere).
Howard Shore's avant garde score is absolutely brilliant. It illustrates perfectly just how unique, cerebral and utterly visceral Cronenberg's vision is. I strongly believe Scanners to be one of the filmmaker's strongest works.
The first great Cronenberg feature revolving around a kind of freak-savant. An kind of artist. A kind of benevolent terrorist. And it's Stephen Lack. Research him. He's a Canadian national treasure. Although in Scanners he does seem like he's been pumped full of sedatives (or Ephemerol?). Scanners is a Spinozist provocation re: what we might consider to be a possible repurposing of the nervous system.
Wow...! Once you get past some weak acting (namely from the ironically named Stephen Lack) Cronenberg's direction and Howard Shore's score completely take over. Throw in some great practical effects and an interesting and sort of ahead of its time story and you're in business. A little dry at points but so worth it.
Thoughtful horror-thriller almost undone by its overcomplicated plot. Much is made of the film's exploding head scene, and the special effects are indeed brilliant, but its success relies on Cronenberg's realisation that the film centres not so much on visuals as sound; the music adds suitably immeasurably to the sense of dread. That and McGoohan as the conflicted svengali figure elevate it beyond cult status.