Mind's Eye, The (2015) [DVD Review]

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2016-10-03 20:26
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The Mindís Eye (2016)
Studio: Image Entertainment and RLJ Entertainment
Release date: October 4th, 2016

Reviewed by: Brett Gallman (@brettgallman)




The movie:

Note: here's my first review of The Mind's Eye, originally published in August.

If you stick with the horror genre long enough, a cool side effect occurs: at a certain point, folks from your generation who were weaned on the same junk as yourself find their way behind writing desks and cameras, perfectly positioned to deliver more of the same schlock. Obviously, this is not a criticism, as the past few years have yielded a bounty of movies that feel like they were produced exclusively for me. One of my favorite filmmakers to emerge during this time is Joe Begos, a cinematic jack-of-all-trades from New England responsible for a couple of scrappy DIY efforts in Almost Human and The Mindís Eye.

Thereís a certain dangerous temptation in leaning on nostalgia for the sort of homage in which Begos engages, but he avoids it by not over-indulging: if anything the nostalgia acts as grace notes, and these films arenít pure homage so much as theyíre affectionately-made extensions, so to speak. Begos isnít trying to completely recreate Carpenter or Cronenberg; rather, it feels like heís imagining an alternate reality where he was asked to play in their sandbox for loosely-related ďsequels.Ē

So just as Almost Human feels like The Thing transported to 90s suburbia, The Mindís Eye imagines what it may have been like had someone made a serious stab at a Scanners follow-up (I mean, I like the actual sequels, but no one would accuse them of being serious). Also set in the 90s, it imagines a world not unlike the one in Cronenbergís brain-popping splatter-piece: telekinetics live among us, though many of them have been herded into government programs. Thatís where Zach Connors (Graham Skipper) finds himself alongside his girlfriend (Lauren Ashley Carter), and the two are subjected to months of experiments at the behest of mad doctor Michael Slovak (John Speredakos) before they eventually stage a jail-break of sorts.

And itís at this point this motherfucker just moves. Breathlessly charging from one action-packed set-piece to the next, The Mindís Eye has a single-minded devotion to bone-shattering, head-smashing, squib-blasting carnage. As producer-editor Josh Ethier put it, this is the result of a ďcouple of assholes going to New England to make a Cannon movie,Ē and itís an unqualified success on that front. I love the scuzzy, gritty, low-budget energy thatís packed into every brawl, stunt, and gore effectóyou donít need any behind-the-scenes confirmation to know that this is a lovingly crafted exercise in practical effects. Thereís an appreciable physicality to it all: say what you want about the filmís skimpy plot and its melodramatic character interactions, but itís all in the service of making a big, audacious splatter show right there on camera.

It often comes off as gushing, hyperbolic praise to proclaim a movie feels like some long-lost dispatch from a bygone era, but Begosís output genuinely fits the bill. Right down to its evocative, kick-ass promotional material, itís meant to fondly recall those days when youíd rent a movie just because you heard it featured an exploding head. Some might argue that itís hardly a lofty goal to enjoy what Begos describes as ďthe type of movie I would have loved as a fifteen-year-old.Ē With all due respect, fuck thatóthereís a value in cinematic comfort food, especially when itís been prepared with a genuine, palpable care. This doesnít mean The Mindís Eye panders (itís too busy snapping necks and splitting faces to do that); instead, itís the logical result of VHS brats having a stab at making the movie of their karo syrup-flavored dreams. These are my kind of people.

The disc:

The scrappy, rambunctious energy of The Mindís Eye is evident in every frame of the film itself, but Image Entertainmentís DVD release reveals just how infectious this vibe is thanks to ďA Look Inside The Mindís Eye,Ē a 30-minute behind-the-scenes supplement featuring most of the cast and crew. Itís a rather intimate look at this lo-fi production, as it mixes in interview material with on-set production footage to drive home the labor of love nature of this work.

Thereís an obvious affection not only for the source material but also for the process of banding together in the frigid New England wilderness to somehow scrap together an ambitious vision on a shoestring budget. An obvious familial bond forms out of this, so you truly buy into the fond recollections hereóeven when it felt like 40 below outside, thereís genuine triumph in pulling off an awesome car stunt. Despite the relatively short runtime, this feature adequately conveys the crewís desire to have as much fun as possible when crafting a killer splatter movie.

If that werenít enough, Begos appears on a solo commentary and a producerís commentary alongside Ethier, Skipper, and Zak Zeman. Promotional material includes a trailer and a poster gallery, the latter of which providing the opportunity to imagine how rad it would have been to see this artwork plastered on an old Wizard big box two decades ago. What's more, The Mind's Eye would have absolutely lived up to its billing. Movies boasting multiple exploding heads tend to do that.
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