Flashback: Scanners

While there are plenty of pyrotechnics saved for the special effects sequences (including a head-exploding scene that has, in some ways, outlived the movie), Cronenberg seems less frightened and more fascinated by this twisted take on the potential next phase of evolution. Being the earlier iteration of Cronenberg, he also can’t resist the lure of a good prosthetic, leading to a number of visual freakouts. «Scanners» never focuses its curiosity into a coherent idea about evolution, making the picture more of a tantalizing what-if for ideas that would skew in a more academic direction with Cronenberg’s next film («Videodrome«), but as far as cheap schlock thrills go, it was matched by very few in the early ’80s, mostly thanks to a career-defining performance by Michael Ironside as the villainous Darryl Revok. It’s an often intense experience, but the film’s lasting impact stems from the superficial absurdities of the project more than from any particular directorial thesis.

– Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist