The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, August 10-16

nyc repertory cinema-brainscan Brainscan (1994)
Directed by John Flynn
Made when “interactive CD-ROM” signaled the cutting edge of technology, this thriller is about the title video game, which allows you to see through the POV of a killer whose actions you guide—a chance for a post-T2 Edward Furlong, as a jaded horror fan, Michael, to become the Michael Myers while in a sort of hypnotized catatonia but also stay at the same safe remove of his room. Or so he thinks—turns out the murder really happened! And more murder and mayhem follow with the arrival of Brainscan’s presumable CEO, Trickster (T. Ryder Smith), who climbs in and out of his television screen and threatens him—apparently between appointments with the same hairdresser as Phil Spector—to keep playing.

“Senseless violence is not entertainment!” the local high-school principal (David Hemblen) lectures when he catches Michael and his buddies watching Death, Death, Death; the administrator compares horror to pornography, which in his formulation causes erections, which lead to rape. Michael, the survivor of a gory car crash that killed his mother, counters that it’s escape, but the movie doesn’t agree with him, pinning violence and its moral responsibility on Michael when all he wants to do is watch. “Terror’s in the doing,” Trickster tells him—as opposed to the watching, which is just for pervs.

Michael has voyeuristic tendencies, including pointing his video camera at the girl-next-door’s bedroom window and watching her undress on his TV. These actions are played off as the romantic overtures of a lonely boy—orphaned, disabled, unpopular, shy, rejected. Such emotional darkness makes this movie more compelling, as does its objectionable but provocative ideas about the genre. Henry Stewart (Aug 16, 2pm, 7:30pm at Metrograph’s video game film series)


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