Edward Furlong discovers a violent video-game that brings new meaning to the word "interactive".
Having apparently not learned his lesson from Terminator 2, Edward Furlong tangles once again with computer-generated evil, here playing Michael, a teenage loner with a dead mother, a father forever away on business and an unrequited crush on a pretty neighbour (Amy Hargreaves). He finds solace in the world of horror, and responds to an ad in Fangoria magazine for the titular virtual reality game, which promises "The ultimate experience in interactive terror." When he tries out the first disc, he experiences first-hand the sensations of breaking into a house and butchering an innocent victim, but back in the real world, a local man has been brutally killed and, of course, Brainscan proves to be much more than just a game.
This isn't bad as gimmicky horror, but it rarely generates true terror, often playing as a thriller with Michael attempting to conceal his apparent crime and an awkward subplot involving neighbourhood vigilantes. The film's most obvious concession to genre requirements is the character of Trickster (T. Ryder Smith), a heavy-metal fiend who emerges from the game to taunt Michael and inform him of his further murderous obligations.
Brainscan may be little more than a popcorn chiller, but it has its tense moments. While the movie's twist will strike many fans as being "safe," it's refreshing that the wrap-up does not suggest that Michael is, or needs to be "cured" of his obsession with horror.