Long before he got obsessed with Freud and Jung, not to mention R-Patz in a limo, Scanners director David Cronenberg dealt in the dangers of science on humanity.
Long before he got obsessed with Freud and Jung, not
to mention R-Patz in a limo, Scanners director David Cronenberg dealt in the
dangers of science on humanity. Maybe it was a Cold War
thing, maybe it was just Cronenberg’s over-active imagination but as a
character in Scanners at one point says; “My art keeps me sane”, it’s easy to
believe the same might just be true of the film’s director.
Cameron Vale (Steven Lack) lives on the periphery of
society, a vagrant eating scraps others have left in a shopping mall. The reason for this is he’s a Scanner,
a person with the ability to hear, or scan, other people’s thoughts as well as
possessing telekinetic abilities.
Recruited by Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick
McGoohan) Cameron finds himself in a world he didn’t know existed, where
Scanners are waging a war against arms company ConSec who are using Scanners as
weapons. Cameron is sent out to
track down the powerful scanner Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), who is leading a group of Scanners determined to
become the dominant species over humans.
With hints of
X-Men and Cronenberg’s flair for body-horror, Scanners is still a cultish bit
of sci-fi fun. As the conspiracy
mounts up and Cameron rapidly realises he can’t trust anyone, so Cronenberg ups
the visual imagery of getting in people’s heads. One scene actually takes place inside a giant head that is
part of an art exhibition.
If there is a
flaw it’s that Scanners has been mislabeled as a horror when there is little on
offer. Yes, heads popping and
veins erupting in showers of blood is a bit icky, although nothing compared to
what modern films getaway with, but Scanners is about a fear of progression and
technology. Hell, at one point
Cameron hacks into a secure facility using a rudimentary form of the internet
via his brain. Take that The Matrix.
Lack, in the lead
role of Cameron, is possibly one of the least inspiring and bland actors you’re
likely to encounter. Delivering
his lines with less emotion than Arnie’s Terminator
he seems to be sleep walking through much of the film. Although this is may be intentional as
he’s often on a drug that inhibits his ability to hear the constant thoughts of
others. Thankfully Michael Ironside
shows why he went on to be one of the most intense and intimidating bad guys
Hollywood could muster. His lupine
look and piercing gaze are as much a highlight of Scanners as the exploding
heads. It’s just a pity he only
turns up at the beginning and end to do his snarling thing.
Kitsch and often
a little convoluted, Scanners is nonetheless a forgettable piece of ‘80s
fun. It won’t fry your brain or
make your eyes pop but it might just make you think twice about visiting a