Review: Scanners 2 – The New Order / Cert: 18 / Director: Christian Duguay / Screenplay: B.J. Nelson / Starring: David Hewlett, Deborah Raffin, Yvan Ponton / Release Date: April 8th
Although the film may be home to the single greatest head explosion in the history of cinema, David Cronenberg's Scanners is actually one of the director's less eccentric movies. It's a cut above the dire eXistenZ and the slow (but respectable) Eastern Promises, but not of quite the same Cronenbergian standard of weird as his classics The Fly, Dead Ringers or Videodrome.
Still, that Scanners spawned a trilogy is unsurprising, since the film's blend of clever ideas and grisly body horror lends itself very well to sci-fi franchising. Of all Cronenberg's movies, it's one of the few that lends itself to sequels (although we wouldn't say no to The Further Adventures of the Brothers Mantle). Cronenberg himself is absent for this sequel, with Christian Duguay (best known – or not – for a number of TV movies and straight-to-DVD sci-fi thrillers) in the director's chair. He does a better job of it than Chris Walas did with The Fly II, without ever approaching Cronenberg's auteur status. You have to feel for the fellow, stepping into the mighty big shoes of one of cinema's greatest, most original visionaries.
Like Scanners, it kicks off with one particularly memorable incident – in this case, a 'Scanner' running amok in an amusement arcade – before settling down to tell a quietly paranoid sci-fi story that's high on drama but low on spectacle. It would have been fun to see Scanners play out as a gory horror movie about mad psychics who run around making folks' heads explode – but Cronenberg was never really interested in that, and nor is his heir. Scanners 3 is a little more entertaining in that respect, but we'll have to look elsewhere for all our sleazy head exploding needs (perhaps the inevitable remake, whenever that happens).
Young vet David Kellum (Hewlett) discovers his Scanner abilities when he moves from the countryside to the city. Using his powers to kill an armed robber, David rises to government attention. He is recruited by a high ranking police officer to assist in hunting and capturing criminals. The plot thickens when he starts to question the motives of his new employer. The plot is a less memorable retread of the previous movie, only without Ironside's enjoyable scenery-chewing or Cronenberg's confident, always unsettling direction. The Blu-ray itself isn't much cop either, offering nothing in the way of extras or commentaries. Worst of all though: no decent head explosions anywhere.
Scanners II is a competent but needless and uninspired redo of a minor classic. It has its moments, but this so called 'New Order' doesn't feel nearly new enough.