Joe Begos, one of the truly talented filmmakers rising through the genre, follows up his throwback indie debut (Almost Human) with The Mind’s Eye, another thriller flowing with old school flair—it’s a pattern that makes Begos’ style so unique and one that’s inspired by the days of synthwave horror. His latest film is a kick in the teeth, a head-exploding delight that couples violence and mayhem with even more violence and mayhem, and a true-to-the-end visual feast with some of the gnarliest special effects of any film this year. In it, Zack and Rachel—born with incredible psychokinetic capabilities—become prisoners of Michael Slovak, a deranged doctor harvesting their powers in his sinister institution.
Cronenberg fans will notice the similarity to Scanners—a film about a private security firm attempting to weaponize people with telekinetic powers—and Begos makes it no secret that The Mind’s Eye was heavily influenced by it, originally pitching it as a Scanners-like revenge tale. But what’s great about what Begos brings to the genre (and film in general), is that although he’s riffing on familiar territory, he’s also making the kind of movies that no one else is right now, or hasn’t in quite some time—what’s old is new again in Begos’ world and he’s making some kick ass movies in the process.
There’s not a single frame wasted, quickly setting up the narrative with Zack being taken into custody after a violent encounter with the cops—one that reveals his telekinetic ability. In doing so, it draws the attention of Dr. Slovak, who takes Zack into his facility after promising to help harness his power, and to reunite him with Rachel, an old friend that shares the same mind-controlling abilities. And that’s the framework built around The Mind’s Eye, which wastes no time getting to the good stuff—the good stuff being exploding heads, telekinetic fights, and wonderful, shit-your-pants violence.
But once the film establishes its characters and their motives, the world-building pretty much stops there. And while that allows it to make way for the revenge side of the story, it also detracts from the fascinating world in which these characters and the clownshit crazy violence thrive in—it lacks any real depth and in doing so, it feels like a missed opportunity. Begos no doubt built something really cool here, it’s just unfortunate that we never got to explore it. But where it slips in scope, however, is more than made up for in its remarkable, bloody mayhem.
What I dig so much about this movie is that the go-to for killing someone is just blowing them the fuck up… with their minds! How cool is that? And that’s pretty much the entire movie, too, which is awesome if you think about it—it’s just 90-minutes of dudes being blown up, or shot, or beheaded, and anything else you can think of. My only question is: why would you ever bring a gun to a telekinetic fight? Like, that’s never going to end well!
The Mind’s Eye is a wall-to-wall bloody feast, one that shines with impressive special effects and a score that burns through each scene with the same ferocity of an exploding head. And while its focus is a little too narrow-minded, leaving a fascinating world in the dust, it does deliver a blood-frenzied revenge tale that proudly nods to the classics that came before it.