A horror film encompassing the paradigms of the human mind, virtual reality (VR), and vendetta, ClearMind attempts to thread through a tightrope, ultimately losing balance halfway through. With Seana Kofoed at the pen and Rebecca Eskreis helming the direction, the movie brings forth a smoky intrigue that promises much but delivers little.
Rebecca Creskoff stars as the lead protagonist Nora, a grieving woman utilizing VR therapy to channel her despair. When Nora begins to exact her revenge on her erstwhile friends through her mind’s figments, the audience finds itself buckled up for a spooky ride. However, with an uninspiring narrative and poor execution, ClearMind manages to muddle its tracks rather than horrifying viewers.
Creskoff’s portrayal of Nora lacks depth and fails to incite audience empathy for her character’s loss. We are expected to buy into her vendetta against her former friends Michael, Shannon, and Shelby (portrayed by Rob Benedict, Toks Olagundoye, and Jessica Meraz respectively) with little reasoning. Despite the efforts, the script failed to convince me that her character’s psychological demise is terrifying, if not understandable.
Although ClearMind intended to inject a substantial amount of thrill into the plot, much of the scares rely on cliche tropes. From flickering lights to sudden bumps, the audience experiences horror motifs we’ve grown tired of, and what should have been hair-raising scenes have been made pedestrian.
Rob Benedict as Michael delivered a less than satisfactory performance, further hindered by the script’s unexceptional dialogues. His chemistry with Creskoff feels contrived, lending no substance to the climax of their supposedly hostile interaction. However, Olagundoye and Meraz shine as Shannon and Shelby, their roles punctuating the narrative with mild fright and well-timed humor.
The film’s music score by composer Raphaelle Thibaut does contribute to the eerie setting, trying to patch up the lacking intensity in several scenes. Despite their best efforts, their engaging sounds fail to resuscitate the poorly paced storyline and stereotyped scares.
Visually, the cinematography aims to imbue each scene with an aura of surreal menace that ultimately feels rather forced. Moreover, the scenes in VR mode are characterized by distorted visuals and glitches. This is a direct nod to films such as The Matrix and Tron. But it fails to inspire any sense of innovative originality. In contrast, these sections make up a mélange of tropes borrowed from countless other horror-thriller predecessors, diminishing its charm as an ostensibly unique concept.
Thankfully, ClearMind attempts to open the Pandora’s Box of mental health and technology. The theme of revenge enacted through virtual reality promised a novel horror thriller that sadly didn’t materialize to its potential. The depth of such a narrative could have lent itself to psychological twists and eerie suspense, making ClearMind a standout. Yet, this prospect fell flat, overwhelmed by disjointed plotlines, clichéd horror elements, and forgettable performances.
As an ardent fan of psychological thrillers and horror, I found ClearMind to be disappointingly lackluster. Despite the underlying premise of exploiting VR therapy’s dangers for personal vendetta, it lost itself within weak scripting.
ClearMind proves to be a promising concept marred by subpar execution. It can barely warrant its watch as a decent horror flick. However, it might find its niche amongst viewers who enjoy an experimental genre movie sprinkled with familiar scares and intrigue. For the broader audience, ClearMind‘s draw remains as cloudy as its premise, making it a rather forgettable affair.
ClearMind Review: A Cloudy Execution of Virtual Reality
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 5.5/105.5/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 4/104/10
- Setting/Theme - 6/106/10
- Watchability - 4/104/10
- Rewatchability - 3/103/10