A horror movie lost in the 90s

Dusting off old horror movies from the 90s, I came up with Brainscan, a movie from 1994 directed by John Flynn where the main character is Edward Furlong, some years later his debut in Terminator 2.

Maybe not very famous, Brainscan is not part of the classic horror movies but it’s still noteworthy. If compared to some of today’s horrors, we surely have to admit this is still an enjoyable movie nowadays.


The story begins with Michael Bower (played by Edward Furlong), a lonely boy left on its own. After a car accident where his mother died, he spends his life in a solitary way, except for the company of his best friend Kyle. His father is always busy with work, and he comes back from school he spends most of the time at home between videogames and technology.

When his friend Kyle tells him of the release of a new horror game which promises to involve the player so well to make the experience realistic, Michael decides to order it, even though he is very skeptical of its real capabilities, since he played a lot of games with the same expectations.

As soon as he starts playing Brainscan, Michael finds himself in a killer’s shoes feeling all the experience as real. So, when he finishes the first match he is thrilled and isolates himself, even more, to keep playing the game. However, implications are not positive: the police start investigating a new murder which dynamics looks just the same as Michael’s in Brainscan.

Michael is shocked by what’s happening and he is forced to complete the game not to be charged with murder and to kill all the eyewitnesses left in complicity with the demon Trickster which guides him through the game from which he has no way out.

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Surely the landscape and Michael’s mood. The dark and melancholic scenarios, Michael’s room full of technology recalls some vicissitudes happening to a lot of youths that coming back from school they lock themselves alone in their room to distract from their personal problems.

School is seen as a morning duty, where many youths may identify themselves. So many students in those years are looking forward to coming back home because they are always withdrawn into themselves, distracted, trying to find an escape in their hobbies, but also in their few loyal friends that share their afternoons with.

The horror club at school is a form of leisure and sharing. It’s a way to escape, but also it’s a way to bind people with the same interest, in a world where you feel isolated from the rest. Everybody likes to share a passion, but this passion is suspended by a prig Principal who dislikes horror movies.

Michael closes in on himself and into his world made of movies, videogames, and technology. It’s a typical situation that many kids live after school between thoughts and hobbies. Despite all, Michael seems to live in a middle-class ‘family’ except for his personal problems, and he’s not completely left on its own because he has his friend Kyle.

The friendship between Michael and Kyle is the only good thing. Kyle is his best friend with whom he shares passions and time. And through the experience of Brainscan, he finds out how important is their friendship.

Why does it deserve to be watched still today?

Brainscan is a horror, but it mixes with other genres like thriller and sci-fi. It demonizes videogames a little although not directly. Since in the early 90s there still was a lot of prejudice on videogames which were often considered responsible for cases of violence.

Michael feels alone like many other youths left on their own. The lack of motivation leads to look for strong emotions. So Brainscan may be seen as a metaphor for a drug that is addictive. The only toehold between this eternal apathy is his friend Kyle, but when even this certainty disappears, Michael is completely lost in his madness.

The soundtrack with the main theme played with piano sticks in your head and fits perfectly the dark atmosphere of the movie. Along with other metal tracks that always do their job in this kind of movie.

What clashes?

Maybe the only thing that clashes in this horror is Trickster which looks too much a fantasy-like character, but obviously, this is consistent with those years where monsters were the protagonists of horror movies. Even though in this situation, more about sci-fi and thriller may look out of context, despite the character is nice, and recalls a metalhead Freddy Krueger. But the whole thing is acceptable because Trickster belongs to a hallucinatory world where everything is possible.

Brainscan could remind a more recent Stay Alive. A horror movie about videogames, but with lots of coherence and engagement issues which doesn’t even remotely make it comparable.

Memorable is Igor, the vocal assistance.