Stream to Scream: “SCANNERS II: THE NEW ORDER”
As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s available, FANGORIA is taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with Stream to Scream. Today: Christian Duguay’s SCANNERS 2: THE NEW ORDER!
In the wave of made-for-TV genre sequels that flooded the ’90s, any attempt to maintain continuity to the original film is an admirable, if unnecessary, endeavor. Usually conceived to capitalize on the small, but loyal fan bases of cult classics, the effort in expanding upon a universe, as opposed to a complete conceptual reboot, is markedly different, but appreciated nonetheless. In the case of SCANNERS II: THE NEW ORDER, building the universe and the characters within also helps keep the story from becoming a low-budget retread of the original film.
Of course, SCANNERS II has the essential elements of any SCANNERS film, from the over-the-top practical gore to mind battles between good and evil telekinetics. Despite some admittedly cheesy sci-fi tropes, such as the secret government experiments, SCANNERS II also presents surprisingly clever material by weighing the practical use of “scanners” in society. Obviously, the philosophical and social allegories are understated in favor of the sci-fi and suspense elements, but it’s the constant defiance of expectations that makes SCANNERS II so intriguing.
Although lacking the production value and visual finesse of Cronenberg’s classic, SCANNERS II still maintains a decent look courtesy of director Christian Duguay and cinematographer Rodney Gibbons. Paired with B.J. Nelson’s ambitious and surprisingly brutal script, Duguay’s concise vision helps create a future where “scanners” are urban legends while being used to covertly combat crime. At times, Duguay apes some of Cronenberg’s signature camera movements and patented sci-fi dutch angles, but each shot has a sense of purpose and often complements the stunning SFX work from Shadoworks Inc.
In many ways, SCANNERS II is a more action-heavy film than the original, as brooding tension is replaced by thrilling chases and shootouts. SCANNERS II injects a certain amount of personality to the proceedings however, which keeps the film both compelling and colorful even beyond the normal made-for-TV film. SCANNERS II also goes to much stranger places, offering a diverse array of “scanners” with varying degrees of powers and moral codes. In fact, SCANNERS II lifts more from the X-MEN comics over the original film, with the similarities coming to a crescendo in the final minutes of the film.
SCANNERS II also benefits largely from a committed, straight-faced cast that offers performances better than most made-for-TV movies. David Hewlett, who you might remember from his collaborations with Vincenzo Natali, is excellent as David Kellum, the protagonist who struggles to balance his emotionally-driven powers with his desire to good. Isabella Mejias and Deborah Raffin are great as well, injecting sympathy and convincing fear into their psychologically complicated characters. The film’s antagonists are rather hit-or-miss, however, either going over-the-top as in the villainous performance from Raoul Trujillo or lifeless, as in Yvan Ponton’s heavy.
SCANNERS II: THE NEW ORDER is a worthwhile, although off-kilter, successor to SCANNERS, using the telekinetic insanity of the original to drive a more thrilling sci-fi narrative. With the combination of Christian Duguay, Shadoworks and the dedicated cast, SCANNERS II is a surprising gem that earns it’s bloody spot in the cult film lexicon with flying colors. It’s an underseen work from an era of high-concept made-for-TV genre entertainment, and one well worth devoting some brain cells towards.