Child-actor-turned-director Andrew van den Houten's first feature is an ambitious if not entirely successful horror picture in which a disaffected young man experiences a brainstorm that simultaneously makes him smarter while opening his mind to monsters from another dimension. The story begins in 1995: Brothers Harry (Daniel Manche) and Alex (Quinn Lujan) are celebrating Harry's 10th birthday with their parents (Sean Young, Larry Fessenden) when Mom experiences a spontaneous nosebleed as she's presenting Harry's birthday cake. Later that night, the boys see her flaying the family dog and still later their dad drags them out of bed and makes a run for it, killing Mom with a shotgun when she tries to stop them. Some 20 years later, Alex Borden (stage-trained Christopher Denham of the 2003 Broadway revival of Athol Fugard's Master Harold and the Boys) is a disaffected young slacker living on Manhattan's Upper West Side and keeping a roof over his head by house-sitting for wealthy homeowners. He's a relatively contented underachiever until the day he matches minds with speed-chess wizard Harry Jellinek (Erick Kastel) at an outdoor table on Riverside Drive. Within hours Alex is breezing through complicated books and adducing highly personal things about strangers. But his newfound mental abilities come at the cost of debilitating migraines, nightmares, flashbacks to his childhood and terrifying visions of people with blood leaking from their eyes, noses and ears. After a scary fainting spell he winds up under the care of Dr. Karen Murphy (Olivia Hussey), a specialist in patients who've suddenly begun using previously dormant parts of their brains. Alex's acquaintances subsequently begin falling prey to a brutal serial killer, raising the inevitable question: Is Alex slaughtering people in some sort of mental fugue state, or are his demons of the mind real and out for blood? While neither especially chilling nor particularly unpredictable, van den Houten's debut, scripted by Steve Klausner from a story by Troy McCombs and William M. Miller, aspires to little more than the usual stalk-and-slash clichés, it features a number of nice touches, including a knowing nod to H.P. Lovecraft's classic short story Pickman's Model and a slew of familiar faces in small roles, such as Udo Kier as a spooky priest and Dee Wallace-Stone and William Atherton as baffled doctors.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: NR
- Review: Child-actor-turned-director Andrew van den Houten's first feature is an ambitious if not entirely successful horror picture in which a disaffected young man experiences a brainstorm that simultaneously makes him smarter while opening his mind to monsters f… (more)