John Lyttle on cinema

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Processing data now: Brainscan is about a boy (Edward Furlong, right) who plays an interactive game that erases the line between reality and virtual reality; the result is murder, mayhem and slapdash FX as the boy (perhaps) turns byte-sized executioner.

The picture is meant to fuse sci-fi and hi-tech and horror, but parents will recognise Brainscan for what it is - documentary realism. Check out your programmed progeny as they sit hunched over the keyboard/joystick/mouse, playing Street Fighter II, ready to tear the heart out of the competition. Well, children should be encouraged to have a hobby, shouldn't they . . .

Movies have always played on our fear of machines, from Metropolis (robot betrays the workers) to The Forbin Project (computer rules the world) to 2001: A Space Odyssey (the computer goes crazy and kills). But these were future scenarios, safely set the day after tomorrow, warnings that expected to be heeded. Now the future has arrived and it's in our homes.

Don't watch the cable channels because you'll mutate (Videodrome). Don't mess with the instruction manual or you'll end up inside the TV (Stay Tuned) or trapped inside an arcade game (Tron). Remember to unplug all the electronic goods before going to bed or the thing inside might escape (Ghost in the Machine). And switch to solar power pronto, because the bloody electricity is out to get you too: see Shocker and Impulse.

Which is why Brainscan should be taken very seriously. If you have children, march into their rooms and smash everything except the beds. And don't forget to stomp on the Walkman: in Amityville II that's how the devil persuades the eldest son to shotgun the entire family.

(Photograph omitted)