Written by: Andrew Allan and Andy Lalino
Directed by: Andrew Allen
Starring: Chris Jackson, Rod Grant, and Somali Rose
Reviewed by: Brett G.
ďMy father killed himself, my stepfatherís a son of a bitch, and my motherís his gang-bang party favor. Iíve got nowhere else to go.Ē
Think back to your days of teenage angst--remember that feeling that it was you against the world, that no one understood you with the exception of your close friends? If youíre having trouble remembering, director Andrew Allan is here to reacquaint you with it and take it to nightmarish levels in Brainjacked, the latest release from Breaking Glass Pictures. The independent film promises more drill action than any film this side of Driller Killer, and has plenty of blood and guts to spread around.
Tristan is a pretty average kid with a very abnormal home life. His deadbeat stepfather pimps out his mother and abuses him; one night, the situation escalates, and Tristan is kicked out of the house. He runs away and wanders the city streets until he meets a mysterious but nice girl, Laney, who introduces him to what seems to be a youth shelter for runaways. The leader here is Dr. Karas, a seemingly nice doctor who offers an unusual method of treatment for Tristanís headaches: trepanation, which involves drilling into the skull to relieve pressure. The weirdness only escalates from here, as Tristan has periodic blackouts before he begins to uncover Dr. Karasís evil plot to control the minds of his patients. As Tristan attempts to escape, he also discovers that Karasís conspiracy extends to horrifying levels.
Brainjackedís concept is pretty good stuff; sure, weíve seen mind control plots before, but this one approaches it in an interesting way that throws just about everything and the kitchen sink in. Itís not just a mind control movie, but also a bit of an evil cult movie, a mad scientist movie, and an on-the-run action/thriller movie. Hell, at one point, ravenous cannibals are thrown in for good measure. As a result of all the mash-ups, it loses its way a bit and feels pretty uneven, but itís interesting enough to keep your attention throughout. Iím not sure if it was intentional, but the film plays fairly well as a metaphor for teenage angst and rebellion; the evil doctor literally drills things into their heads and attempts to turn them into drones until some of them see the truth and fight back. Thereís a sense of heightened paranoia, but it becomes clear that just about the entire world is against them, and no one can be trusted.
Setting aside such allegorical elements, the movie still works well as a horror/action film. Itís got all the expected tropes, and it eventually degenerates into a typical ďsave the girl from the evil villainĒ piece. Itís a decent ride once it settles on that mode, as the last act is satisfying enough, particularly when it comes to bloodshed. While the film is fairly gory throughout, it mostly just involves different variations of Dr. Karas drilling holes in his patientsí heads. Thatís grisly enough, but the last ten minutes feature an array of destruction and gore. The promotional materials of the film indicate that The Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis, was mightily impressed himself, and with good reason. Thereís some great, nasty, and gooey effects, the last of which is especially disturbing because itís pretty bleak, all things considered.
This is an independent film, but its production values are still relatively high. It separates itself by having a nice visual palette--the film is drenched in colorful, neon hues that give off a sort of other-worldly, dream-like atmosphere. Most of the film is shot at night, and itís a grim, oppressive environment that captures the despairing nature of the charactersí plight. Speaking of the characters, theyíre brought to life by some decent performances. Chris Jackson is solid in the lead role, as heís charismatic and likeable, while Rod Grant is a smarmy bastard as Dr. Karas, who reminds me a bit of Herbert West from Re-Animator. Somali Rose is the standout in the role of Laney because sheís cute and seems comfortable in front of the camera. One performance I could have done without was Christopher Sarllsís snarling, over-the-top performance as Zane, an escaped patient of Dr. Karasís. His low, gravely voice sounds like someone doing a bad impression of Christian Baleís Batman (as if the world needed another one of those).
The movie has other jarring moments like that one--like a strange, cheesy fantasy sequence right near the end that breaks the tension and mood being set up--that keep this one from being very good. Instead, itís a solid effort that shows a lot of promise on the part of many involved. Breaking Glass Pictures will be brining the film to DVD on August 31st, and it promises to be a nice package. The transfer on my screener was sharp and colorful, with the stereo soundtrack being equally as clear. Extras on the disc will include three commentaries: one with director Allan and producer Andy Lalino, another with Allan, the cinematographer, and the filmís composer, and, finally, a track with Rod Grant, the special effects artist, and ďindie horror funnymanĒ Shelby McIntyre. There will also be a behind-the-scenes featurette, a location tour, a bonus short film, and trailers. If youíre looking for a indie horror film thatís got a bit of a unique concept and some good gore, Brainjacked is your ticket. Rent it!
For more information, please visit the Breaking Glass Pictures website.
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