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John’s Horror Corner: Scanners 2: The New Order (1991), a weaker yet decently serviceable follow-up to Cronenberg’s gory allegory.

February 13, 2022

MY CALL:  A somewhat worthy sequel that succeeds in entertaining and advancing the story just enough… and with enough gooey gory chunky head trauma as well.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Scanners 2Well, there’s Scanners (1981) and the subsequent sequel Scanners III (1991), as well as the Scanner Cop movies (1994-95). Firestarter (1984) might scratch your psychic itch. And although not at all horror, I might also recommend Wilder Napalm (1993).

Following in the footsteps of director and writer David Cronenberg (The Fly, Rabid, Videodrome, The Brood), who made serious statements about modern psychology and metaphysics in his early 80s horror oddity, this sequel’s director Christian Duguay (Scanners 3, Screamers, The Art of War) delivers far less intrigue and compelling content. The advancement of the original story is simply less interesting—but certainly not bad either. Ephemerol-addicted scanner patients have been reduced to fix-seeking junkies at research facilities, and criminal rogue scanners are up to what seems to be the same old mind-controlling shenanigans. The plot doesn’t steer far from its source material.

Suffering from strange migraines, first-year veterinary student David (David Hewlett; The Shape of Water, Cube, Haunter, Splice) protects his girlfriend Alice (Isabelle Mejias) by making convulsing pulsating work of a convenience store stick-up robber by turning his head into a brain-spewing blender. The visual effects are chunky, gory, visceral and extensively satisfying. But caught on security video, David’s scanner secret is out, and he is now to be studied by scanner specialists.

This sequel takes place over 22 years after the events of part 1, and the middle majority of this movie seems to drag on slowly so we really feel those years. It’s not very eventful and the story slowly pours in connections to the past. The revelations of the plot are not uninteresting but also not very compelling since the shocking revelations of part 1 are behind us. The problem seems to be in the execution. Not that this is a bad film at all. Just… a film that struggles to escape its predecessor’s shadow of strong allegory and more compelling characters. Most interesting for me was the discovery of new ways to use scanners’ abilities.

We are introduced to our twitchy and intense antagonist scanner Drak (Raoul Max Trujillo) early in the film. His role and dark intensity build throughout. When he finally faces off against David, the encounter falls short of the gravity brought by Michael Ironside in part 1. Still, the effects are impressively gross as he is reduced to a flesh-sunken husk.

Finale deaths come with the gross, wet, pulsating faces and puffy flesh we’ve come to anticipate cueing the pending cephalic explosion of latex and gobbledygoop. So like part 1, this movie is largely reducible to a couple of impressive effects scenes bookending the film. Overall not bad. Not bad, but not great. I’d say part 1 was far superior.

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