Our Favorite Telekinetic Moments in Cinema

This weekend marks the release of The Mind’s Eye, the new independent horror movie from filmmaker Joe Begos. The Mind’s Eye is a splatter-fueled celebration of psychic powers on screen, inspired by classics like David Cronenberg’s Scanners and Brian De Palma’s The Fury. The Mind’s Eye is now playing in select cities, and I urge any fan of indie horror to go see it. If it’s not playing near you, you can rent it on VOD platforms like iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. Make sure to check out our interview with Joe Begos, too!

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To celebrate the release of this mind-straining, vein-popping good time, Fan Contributors Danielle Ryan, Drew Dietsch, Graham Host, Troy Anderson, and I bring you our six favorite telekinetic moments in all of cinema.

Carrie

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By the time Carrie White unleashes her wrath upon her adolescent tormentors, their fates feel justified. Shortly after being drenched in pig’s blood at her high school prom, Carrie uses her telekinesis to wreak havoc on her peers, throwing both people and objects with her mind. It’s a brutal climax, but a satisfying one after watching poor Carrie suffer for so long. It’s a great revenge fantasy, and anyone who was bullied in high school can empathize. The fact that Carrie’s abilities came with her first menstrual cycle adds a neat feminist touch, one that had me trying to move pencils with my mind in middle school.

The female students harass Carrie for her menses, pelting her with sanitary products in the locker room. The pig’s blood is a callback to her pubescent trial as well, sanguine symbolism that’s none too subtle. Carrie’s perceived burden is her greatest strength, her telekinetic powers another part of her womanhood. It is her rage at being so mercilessly mocked that finally sets her off, and hell hath no fury like Sissy Spacek covered in red goo. [Danielle Ryan]

The Fury

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Everyone loves when telekinetics use their powers to blow stuff up. When they blow up people? Heck, David Cronenberg built a whole film around that concept. However, his infamous head explosion pales in comparison to the astounding climax of Brian De Palma’s The Fury.

After making the definitive telekinetic horror film, De Palma followed it up with a trashier, more fun telekinetic tale. While The Fury isn’t quite the chiller that Carrie was, it does outdo that film’s psychic shenanigans with the greatest exploding person ever filmed. It’s a joyous bit of gruesome exploitation that you must see to believe. John Cassavetes goes kablooey from every conceivable camera angle as Amy Irving puts on the greatest “I’m using my psychic powers face” you’ve ever seen. Plus, you have John Williams’ excellent score backing it up! It may be insanely goofy, but it’s one of the best endings to any film ever made. [Drew Dietsch]

X-Men: The Last Stand

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Telekinesis has always been one of my favorite superpowers (possibly due to my laziness). The idea that people can lift trucks with just the power of their minds is both intoxicating and frightening. If people suddenly were able to move objects with their minds, there is no telling where it would end. What if people decided to use their new powers for evil?

In X-Men: The Last Stand we see the worst possible outcome. Mutant Jean Grey‘s powers are so strong that another intelligence emerged from them, one with even greater control and strength. As a member of Magneto‘s mutant army, she fought against humans who were trying to remove their powers. However, she loses control, and her dark side takes over. The resulting psychic attack tears people apart on a cellular level and raises walls of water from the surrounding bay with ease. Tragic love interest Wolverine eventually stops her, but not before Jean kills dozens of people and destroys several buildings in mere moments. While I wish I could grab the remote from across the room, maybe it’s best that humanity doesn’t have telekinesis for now. [Graham Host]

Chronicle

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Chronicle offers a unique approach to the Carrie/Akira formula of kids getting psychic powers. While the found footage format is somewhat unnecessary, it does provide an intimate glimpse into the lives of three teenagers who gain telekinesis from some unknown entity.

Though things start off fun — the kids learn to fly and prank people — soon lead character Andrew begins to succumb to his darker impulses. It’s when he labels himself an apex predator that the most powerful moment of the film happens: Andrew crushes a car like a wadded-up piece of paper. Magneto-esque in the best of ways, it’s this scene that solidifies Andrew as a force to be reckoned with. It’s awesome and terrifying in equal measure. While there are more bombastic sequences in the film, it’s this one that sticks with you. [Drew Dietsch]

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

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Tina Shepherd wants nothing more than to get her father to stop slapping around her mother. After she runs out to the middle of Crystal Lake, she tries to escape her father’s menacing ways. Her poor dad runs after her, but her anger triggers her emerging telekinetic powers. In a fit of rage, she telekinetically destroys the Jetty and drops her father to a watery grave. Later attempts to stimulate her telekinetic abilities would resurrect Jason Voorhees and eventually her saturated zombie father.

The portrayal of Tina’s telekinetic powers is inconsistent throughout the film. At times, it seemed as though she was demonstrating psychokinesis or pyrokinesis. Telekinesis is the process of lifting things with your mind or carefully moving intricate pieces around. Psychokinesis is when a mentally powerful person forces their will on an object and propels it. Pyrokinesis is setting stuff on fire with your mind. I bring all of this up, as it appears no one notified the screenwriters of Friday the 13th Part VII of the difference between powers. Read your comics, people. [Troy Anderson]

Scanners

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While Carrie may be the ultimate in telekinetic horror, Scanners is the granddaddy of psychic thrillers. When two characters battle for psychic supremacy, straining and making pained facial expressions at one another, part of that is owed to director David Cronenberg. When Rey and Kylo Ren have that epic psychic staredown in The Force Awakens, that scene might not have played out the way it did if Scanners hadn’t been so influential.

While a scanner’s psychic powers aren’t strictly limited to moving objects with their mind, the most infamous scene in the movie unmistakably shows something moving. Darryl Revok, the film’s villain, and a very powerful scanner, takes part in a live demonstration by a low-level scanner. In front of an audience, Revok blows the man’s head to smithereens through sheer psychic force. To capture this now iconic moment, the effects crew fired a shotgun point blank at a blood-filled rubber head. It’s magnificently disgusting, and one of the best splatter moments of the eighties. [Travis Newton]


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