Dear, President Baby and the puppies are finally back home after they evacuated before Hurricane Ian got here. I missed them terribly and I'm so glad we're finally together again. I'm counting down the hours until I'm off work today, believe you me! But before they got home last night I had a movie to watch and I checked out the cult classic...
The 346th review
I'm going to be honest, my first introduction to David Cronenberg was in Jason X. I was familiar with who he was, but I had never actually seen one of his movies until last year when I watched Videodrome and The Fly. Let me say this about him, you can definitely tell when you're watching one of his movies. He does body horror exceptionally well and this movie is no exception.
Scanners is a weird one, but nowhere near as out there as Videodrome. There's a group of people walking around, known as Scanners, who have telekinetic powers. While one company wants to use them for its own ends, there's a rogue Scanner going around killing people like him. Our main character, Cameron Vale, is tasked with infiltrating the group led by Darryl Revok (played by the awesome Michael Ironside with hair!) From there Cameron bounces around different leads trying to get closer to Revok.
That's basically the movie in a nutshell. But people don't watch this one for the plot. Even people who have never seen this movie probably know a scene from it even if they don't know it. The famous head explosion scene is awesome.With such a cool looking effect, I always assumed it served as the finale because how do you top that?! I mean, just watch it!
The scene happens in the first 15 minutes or so and after that incredible moment the movie slows down quite a bit and we get more from Cameron. It would be hard to follow up that scene no matter what they did, but with Cameron Vale now taking center stage you can't help but feel the drop off. We don't get to know much of anything about his past until the very end and it's when it's finally revealed it's just a quick conversation and then we're off to the finale. You don't really know what anyone's motivations are until the very end. Revok, the big bad, just kind of casually gives his motivation in a monologue that doesn't really land. Something about taking over the world with an army of Scanners. I agree with Roger Ebert's review that his plan and the twist aren't as jaw dropping as the writer probably thought and hoped it was.
Another small nitpick I had is we don't get the awesome body horror you would expect from this director. I mean when you have such a cool effect as the head explosion, you don't really get anything until the end. I'm not the biggest fan of gore for gore's sake, but if you're seeing a Cronenberg movie, you go in expecting some things especially when the movie already gave you probably the best head explosion in movie history!
The story is just OK, but outside of Ironside, the acting isn't good enough to get you to ignore it. The actor playing Cameron sounds like he's reading lines for the most part. Also, I get that it's difficult to show a psychic battle, but man, some of those facial expressions they make are goofy. To its credit, the story did manage to keep my interest and I didn't find myself reaching for the phone after the head explosion. It kept me engaged and I was curious how it was going to end.
Speaking of the end, the last psychic battle is pretty great. Outside of the faces the two make, the way wounds just appear on their bodies and how one of them catches fire is pretty awesome. While it doesn't live up to the head explosion from earlier, it's still fantastic. The longer it goes on and the more damage they take, the better it gets. I was a passive viewer the entire time I was watching it, but the final battle had me hooked because it was hard to tell who was winning and it was fun seeing them go back and forth and see the way the damage appeared. It was oddly compelling.