Psychic, The (2005)

Starring Casper Van Dien, Catherine Oxenberg, Paul Anthony, Cam Cronin

Directed by Jonas Quastel

The Psychic is boxed in a package with a dark cover featuring a collage of images around the title. Front and center is the image of star Casper Van Dien standing in front of what appears to be an unused set for Cube 16. Below him is a ghostly image of a person descending a staircase, and along the border are images from the movie, all of which are bathed in an amber light and scratched to give it that antiqued and gothic horror look. Under the boldly and awkwardly printed title is the tag-line “The future can be your worst nightmare.” Again, studios in their blindsight synergy to market have given you advance notice; if you put this movie into your DVD player, the next 90 minutes will be your worst nightmare, just not in the way that they intended.

None of the front cover of the box makes much sense because The Psychic is not a horror movie. It is not even a science fiction movie. It is crap. Utter and unpatriotic offal, meant for the bottom dregs of those who have been so hard pressed for entertainment that they have to accept not only deplorable acting and writing, but some of the most contrived and uninspired movie making ever seen on a small silver disc. If I were to tell you that I could take each copy of this film and use them for coasters in the wreckage of the Titanic, I would still be afraid that some silly historian would find it and think it was worth some sort of examination. Poor fool, all those years in college would have been for naught as he would emerge stoopidur.

The movie is about USA’s “The Dead Zone.” Simple, huh? Really, folks, I am not a follower of the series on USA, but I know enough about it and am familiar enough with the original movie to make the connection. The Psychic plagiarizes the story of a man who dies and is brought back to life. After this he is cursed with the ability to see horrible events occurring, yet he’s unable to see the small things. Apparently to make the movie a bit more interesting, the events that take place around him all have to be monumentous: earthquakes, train derailments, terrorist attacks. They all are shown and then come to pass. Credit has to be given for the events taking place in the newest form of celluloid abuse: computer generated imagery.

Now for those of you who do not know what computer generated imagery is, it is where movie makers can create things happening very cheaply and in the most laughable ways imaginable. The rendering recalls some of the earliest gaming systems. I think I saw effects of this caliber in some of the first games to come out on PlayStation. Cool stuff. In The Psychic you can see cracking buildings that explode in fire, silver subways leap right out of buildings, and Catherine Oxenberg’s performance is nuanced to new levels of seventh grade. She reminds me of this one girl who played the spider in Little Miss Muffett in kindergarten. It is a brave performance and will be called upon for eons to come when women are remembered in great performances by such groundbreaking groups as Lifetime Television.

Sorry. I had to vomit. But the mention of Oxenberg’s cardboard and annoying performance not only begs that someone revoke her right to make any more films but also segues to the film’s main attraction: Casper Van Dien. Apparently Casper does not stand for the quality of film I remember him for. Where is the cartoonish square jawed boy from Starship Troopers or the cartoonish square jawed boy from Sleepy Hollow?… oh wait. It’s here. Casper needs to be taken in hand and made to work with someone who won’t be satisfied with his two speed sort of acting. The guy only has two settings, the “aw shucks” smile and candor and the “I AM SCREAMING, I LOVE LAMP!?!” with veins popping out of his head.

Admittedly, Casper is a good looking kid, but he cannot bank on this alone, and people who are in the position of greenlighting movies need to come to this conclusion as well. Casper, call me. We need to talk. You need to do something before you end up doing an infomercial selling bikini wax products in Bangladesh.

The script, and it does so hurt me to call it that, was written by Will Stewart and has as much intelligence as a pile of unused Duplo Blocks. The dialogue is bad, and not even laughably bad, but is filled with characters spouting words that apparently Mr. Stewart has heard people in those positions say on the TV screen. We get every cliche role ever made; the buddy cop who dies (leaving Casper with GUILT!), the supportive but supposed to be tough as bricks police captain, the worried and tortured wife, and of course the son whose only purpose seems to be to be kidnaped and fall out of a helicopter.

The music in the film was raped by John Sereda. Honestly, it fits right in with the rest of the film. Sereda has composed a score filled with movie cliches like stingers to announce the “BAD GUY” and a good bit of funky 70’s sounds when the cars start chasing each other. One good thing is that if this beast of a DVD finds its way into your player, the music does serve as a reminder to shut it off. The car chase takes place early, so when the Starsky and Hutch bit begins, you can stop the pain before it goes further.

Naturally, there are terrorists in the film, and in case you didn’t know, Casper has to use his powers to stop them. The bad guys seem to be of Soviet descent, avoiding the overused Arabic approach. Is this a reach at originality or because the screenwriter (ugh) was watching Rounders when he wrote the script? The group’s motivations are never explained, but they do describe their plan in full for the relief of the audience — even pointing to a schematic of it with simple drawings and written in English. This apparently is done so the audience can follow what the big bad guy is saying, and we all know that Russian terrorists write in clear legible English on diagrams of destruction in real life.

But wait, that’s not all! The head terrorist is a Real Bad Guy. How do we know this? He yells everything and at everyone! If I were a cop in this town, I could find him easily. The guy is loud and always stuck on SAY EVERYTHING AT THE TOP OF HIS VOICE. You also know he’s really, really bad because he kills his own men and is constantly threatening to do so. You know, leadership through fear and trust. The way all terroristic regimes begin.

I went into this wanting to give it a fair chance. I want to like Casper, and there’s no reason the basic premise couldn’t have worked, but the movie just never decided what it wanted to be. If it had focused on something or built itself up differently, with patience and care it would have been better. Then again if the whole thing had just never appeared, I would be a better person for it. I think this movie took years off my life. I know it drained Eye-cue points off me brane.

Sorry. The vomit again. Really…There is no reason why this film should exist or that anyone should ever be forced to watch it. But take notice of what this film is not: This film is not a horror movie despite what the box wants you to think. It is not a science fiction film either. It has no place, not even if the Sci-Fi channel has a crisis where they have run out of all playable content should this heap of bantha poo-doo ever be seen on its airwaves.

I mean, even they have standards.

0 out of 5 Mugs O’ Blood

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