Filmmakers can’t control what’ll be happening in popular culture when their work comes out, which is why writer-director Joe Begos may be cursing Netflix right now for releasing its delightful series “Stranger Things” before his stylistically similar but decidedly inferior retro-horror feature “The Mind’s Eye.”
As with “Stranger Things,” “The Mind’s Eye” calls back to genre favorites like “Scanners,” “The Fury,” “The Thing” and “Firestarter.” Fans of pulsing synthesizers, shadowy government facilities and exploding heads should be ecstatic.
Graham Skipper stars as a drifter/fugitive with psychokinetic powers who’s lured into the secret lair of a mad doctor (John Speredakos), where he’s reunited with his long-lost girlfriend Rachel (Lauren Ashley Carter). After the hero exposes a conspiracy to exploit the super-powered, what follows is roughly one solid hour of folks staring intensely at each other, trying to exert their respective wills.
Begos opens “The Mind’s Eye” with the words, “This film should be played loud,” as though his movie were a rock song — which is actually a fair analogy for a simplistic throwback homage that’s all hook and no sophistication.
No gore-hound can complain too much about a picture with this many practical blood effects — including one scene where a dude catches a flying ax square in the face. But what “The Mind’s Eye” lacks is the fully developed world of “Stranger Things” and other smart nostalgia pieces. Begos gets the texture and atmosphere right, but there’s nothing beneath his cool ’80s fog.
‘The Mind’s Eye’
Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena