Brainscan (1994, John Flynn)

Not a bad little virtual-reality teen horror movie. Well, okay, it’s quite a bad little virtual-reality teen horror movie, but Trevor and I have sentimental attachment to the stupid thing. So how could we pass up watching the edited-for-television version (“I’m in deep stuff”) at Dolly’s house?

Edward Furlong continued frittering away his Terminator 2 goodwill after Pet Sematary II and before his brief 1998 resurgence, appearing as a troubled (dead mom, metal albums) video gamer who gets a demo disc of an immersive VR experience, a shoddy Existenz starring a punk clown called Trickster. In first-person, Eddy stalks then knifes a sleeping neighbor. His gaming buddy Kyle knows too much, so Ed goes back the next night and wakes up hearing that his friend has died (we don’t watch this part). Next he tries to rebel against Trickster and stop the killing, but Tricky wants Ed to take care of his crush Kimberly. Another killing spree ends with a vigilante neighborhood watch group shooting Kyle’s dad, I think. But Ed wakes up and everyone’s still alive – it was all part of the game experience. So he trashes his room a bit, then hands off the disc to a hated authority figure, and all ends well.

Written by Andrew Walker, who specializes in convoluted serial killer stories (Se7en, Sleepy Hollow, 8mm), mostly pretty tame but with a few scenes that seem like inspirations to later works (Lost Highway, an Aphex Twin video). The actors who played Furlong’s friends Kyle and Kimberly would go on to appear in nothing much, and nothing much, respectively, but the killed dad was in Scanners, which is the movie people always think you’re talking about if you mention Brainscan.