After a part 2 which starred a man who we know from his TV appearances is a strong comic actor, but was almost entirely serious, we come to a part 3, with a guy who isn’t a strong anything actor, that fully steers into the ludcrousness of the whole enterprise and is almost entirely comedic!
Despite having the same director and one of the same writers, this movie couldn’t be any more different. Perhaps a quick “Scanners” history lesson will be handy. While the first movie was being made, producer Pierre David bought the rights to make sequels, and then waited ten years (presumably for a time when exploding head special effects became cheaper). So, much like “XTRO” had two sequels in name only, because the director had the rights to the name but nothing else, “Scanners” has two sequels pretty much entirely because some guy had paid for it years previously.
In further timeline fun – you may remember the children of the guy from part 1 showing up in part 2, both in their 30s, despite the movies being ten years apart – it’s so long since the scanners from part 2 did their thing in front of a bunch of TV cameras, that they’re now creatures of myth, eliciting only vague amusement from a birthday party full of whatever the Canadian 90s equivalent of hipsters was. Alex (Steve Parrish) is asked to show off his scanner powers, and is happy to do this little parlor trick, pushing his friend backwards with just his mind, until he’s distracted and accidentally shoves him out of the window, killing him.
He’s found not guilty, pretty luckily, and decides to go to a Buddhist monastery in Thailand and find himself, learn to take control of his powers, whatever it is. Alex’s girlfriend Joyce (Valérie Valois) and stepsister Helena (Liliana Komorowska) remain friends, until a couple of years later, when a gang attacks them in an alley and Helena uses her scanning powers to mess them up. She’s struggling with the same problems Alex had, the incessant din of human thoughts being beamed into her head, but rather than going to meditate, she decides to hassle her stepdad, famed neuroscientist Elton Monet (Colin Fox). He’s invented EPH-3 (the only link between this and the previous two movies), but it’s super-experimental; she offers to be the guinea pig but he refuses.
I’m sure you can see where this is going. Helena just steals the supply and applies an EPH-3 patch (which is a large circle of plastic with a little blue light on it, stuck behind her ear) and immediately turns evil; she takes over a worldwide media company and her Dad’s company, by the “traditional” method of advancement (murdering everyone). Alex eventually turns back up and after a while, it’s on. There’s a whole weird subplot about a group of scanners that Helena liberates all dressing and acting like 1930s gangsters, but I’ve got no idea what that was about.
The first thing to notice about “Scanners 3” is that it has a similar structure to part 2, in that the alleged star of the movie drops out of it for a significant portion of the early running. This is very definitely a movie about the villain, rather than the hero, and it’s all the better for it. She has an interesting plan and she’s not afraid to go after it. There’s perhaps a good reason for this assignation of screen time though.
Liliana Komorowska is amazing, and Steve Parrish is terrible. She fully understands just how silly the plot and script are, and really runs with it. Every scene she’s in is full of scenery-chewing magic; whereas not only does he have a face that’s sort of annoying to look at, he’s just not a good enough actor to relax and have fun with a movie that’s clearly intended to be a comedy. I mean, there’s a scene where he has an underwater scanner fight (underwater! This is brilliant!) and he’s just there, playing it straight. It’s quite curious that in three “Scanners” movies, the lead actor has been a wooden non-presence in two of them, and it’s not like David Hewlett gave the best performance in part 2 either.
I feel like this movie really ought to have been rediscovered by the bad movie brigade by now, but quite a lot of reviews of it seem to treat it moderately seriously, like the comedy is unintentional? Well, watch the autopsy scene and tell me that’s not supposed to make you laugh – some fine comic timing from a character with only a few lines. Or the TV broadcast where Helena puts her plan into effect, which is so crazy there’s no possible way you coul take it seriously. On that note – the plot of the movie hinges on scanning powers being something you can record on videotape and broadcast via TV, which indicates someone involved with it would rather have been remaking “Videodrome”.
Any Buddhists reading this review will be pleased to note that, after spending years in a monastery, he’s progressed a great deal as an individual. Oh, sorry, I meant to write that as soon as he gets home, he starts murdering people with his mind – okay, they’re bad guys, but I’m pretty sure the Buddha never said “murder’s cool, as long as the victim is a dick”.
They throw in a completely wild, OTT ending, and a set of closing credits with no music behind them, as if they wanted to creep you out right at the last minute. It’s often hilarious, and while the plot is just as dumb as part 2, they at least acknowledge that (even the head-wobbling “fights” are done with tongue slightly in cheek).
This has been one of the most thoroughly entertaining b-movies we’ve covered on this site. Recommended with no problem whatsoever.
Rating: thumbs up