All hail Kirk Douglas, one of the finest actors of his time. Brian De Palma, fresh off of making Carrie decided to craft his own film about kids with psychic powers, giving birth to a film that is equal parts horror, science fiction, action, thriller and drama. Some elements don’t quite work, yet what results is a great and exciting movie that always manages to be entertaining while also featuring one hell of a last act. I love how De Palma’s movies seem to be campy and yet work regardless, as he is a talented director capable of executing his visions through his work. It doesn’t hurt that this film has a great cast, with Douglas facing off against John Cassavetes while trying to save his son, played in creepy fashion by Andrew Stevens. Frequent De Palma actor Amy Irving also shows up as the girl who can maybe help Douglas in his quest, all while trying to remain one step ahead of the governmental agency he used to work for before they tried to kill him. Plus the film also has Charles Durning, who appeared in the De Palma classic Sisters, this time as a doctor instead of a private investigator.
Many set pieces work incredibly well, ranging from the action packed opener to a car chases that is funny and well executed. The film has plenty of slow motion, and yet none of the slow motion comes off as dumb; one scene its used for is full of violence and inspires horror and despair. Cassavetes is a great villain, manipulative and sleazy, while Douglas embodies Peter with the stoic drive to get his son back that never comes off as sappy. The psychic scenes are also never goofy and add to film’s overall chill factor, while the conclusion is truly shocking and unexpected. I came in not expecting much and left feeling that this is one of De Palma’s best films, and its too bad that he hasn’t made more than a few other horror films during his career. He seems to have a knack for them, understanding that people can be scarier than any monster. Oh and the score by John Williams is fantastic, which comes as no surprise-I never comment on music in horror movies enough, it seems.