Fans of David Cronenberg's, "Scanners" are probably very excited for the August 5th release of Joe Begos' "The Mind's Eye"; his homage to the aforementioned telekinetic horror masterpiece. A major reason behind the film's anticipation, aside from just looking completely bad-ass, is that this particular sub-genre is very much slim pickings; with the few contemporary attempts not involving Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, or a rubber tire, either falling flat, or not trying anything new with the formula. Thankfully, director and writer Nicole Witte Solomon has just the fix for starving fans of this criminally under-served realm of horror.
'Small Talk' follows phone-sex operator, "Allison" who, as a result of increasingly perverse and brash clientele, begins to suffer through some really nasty migraine-headaches. As her callers begin to suddenly drop dread shortly after each encounter, Allison becomes terrified, and suspects some correlation between their deaths and the severe pains in her head. Determined to get to the bottom of this gruesome mystery, she enlists the help of her close friend, and the two set off on a very dangerous search for the truth.
From title to credits, "Small Talk" runs just under thirty minutes, making this an easy-to-digest horror romp, but that doesn't mean you won't feel satisfied with it. The film runs with a very tight pacing, keeps exposition down to a minimum - opting instead for a show-and-tell approach - and feeds the audience just enough clues to solving the disturbing mystery that you can't help but stay glued in order to see how it all plays out. It's a 23 minute crescendo into a finale that's guaranteed to leave quite the impression, all the while tickling the nostalgic funny-bone of horror fans alike. In fact, it's at the tail end of "Small Talk" where fans of this sub-genre, especially those fond of it's grandfather "Scanners", will find the most obvious and violently glorious tribute to that film, and we can't thank Nicole Witte Solomon enough for it.
It's absolutely worth mentioning the great performance from lead actress, Manini Gupta in her portrayal as Allison (referred to as "Al"). The soft spoken tone taken with clientele, coupled with her deceivingly timid appearance allows for great juxtaposition against the assertiveness and brutally violent capabilities she displays later in the film, which manages to surprise even herself. It's all pulled off by Gupta with what seems like effortless ease, and considering how much screen-time she has, we're thrilled she really brought it. Unfortunately, we aren't quite as lucky with some of the cast in the smaller roles - who do a bit to detract with some hammy over-the-top acting - but they are small roles and as such, aren't on-screen long enough to interfere with the flow in any significant way. Swinging back to the positive, Allison's good buddy and partner-in-crime "Tania" (Ruthellen Cheney) does an admirable job playing the tough-on-the-outside vulnerable-on-the-inside supportive friend who helps to elevate the scenes she's in, thanks to natural-sounding line delivery and great demonstrative chemistry with Gupta. The two work as a great pair, and are a joy to watch play off each other moment to moment.
So if it isn't abundantly clear by now, fans of the telekinetic horror variety, do yourselves a favor and purchase a copy of 'Small Talk' immediately. We highly recommend the deluxe edition as it includes some insightful behind the scenes material and cool production stills, but really any version of the film will do in providing your brain-busting (practical fx delivered) gore-filled fix.