At a Christmas party in a high rise apartment, scanner Alex Monet shows off his psychic abilities with his best friend. Due to a mishap he accidentally pushes his friend off the balcony with his telekinesis, and goes into self-imposed exile in a Buddhist monastery on the other side of the world.
Back home and months later, his sister Helena is breaking down from the pressure of hearing everyone's thoughts all the time. Alex and Helena's father, a millionaire pharmaceutical businessman and scientist who adopted the two when they were kids, has developed a drug that might help them, Eph 3. The drug is however experimental and possibly dangerous. After a mental episode Helena steals the drug and tests it on herself with success, but the side effects degrade her empathy and turn her into a sociopath bent on domination. After Helena takes control of the company Alex must come back to stop her.
This film provides examples of:
- Asshole Victim: Helena murders the creepy director of an institute who routinely abused his psychic patients by gruesomely blowing his head up.
- Cain and Abel: Alex has to fight his sister Helen after she becomes insane
- Cigarette Burns: Helena tests her recently discovered ability to transmit her mind control powers through a camera signal by recording a tape to force her lover to put out a cigar on his hand. When Alex (Helena's brother and another "scanner") later sees the tape, he almost does the same thing.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: When Helena takes over her father's pharmaceutical firm (after murdering him in cold blood), she takes the company in ethically dubious directions he would have objected to, uses her psychic powers to kill her professional rivals, and eventually tries to brainwash the world.
- Driven to Suicide: When the Ephemerol 3 no longer affects her psyche and she's confronted with her actions, Helena kills herself by electrocution.
- Fantastic Drug: Another version of Ephemerol appears to explain how Helena turned evil. Since it is an experimental drug, it is untested on scanners and turns them insane.
- Evil Laugh: Helena starts to enjoy the evil laugh after the drug makes her lose her moral inhibitions.
- Groin Attack: At the beginning of the movie, Helena and Joyce are making their way down an alleyway when the two of them are confronted by a trio of thugs. As Joyce tells them that they don't want any trouble, the lead thug tells them that they should be worried for their own safety and upon seeing that things are getting worse, Joyce decides to kick the lead thug in the groin in an attempt to help herself and Helena escape from the imminent danger.
- Hospital Hottie: One of the villainous scanners in part three. Invoked, since she's only posing as one.
- Incest Subtext: There is a bit present between Helena and Dr. Monet, her adoptive father. After she goes insane, he confronts her while she's nude in a hot tub. She accuses him of adopting her because he just wanted a girl all to himself, and then uses her psychic powers to drown him.
- Mass Hypnosis: After Helena discovers that her psychic powers works over a television broadcast signal as well, she plots to use it to mind control everyone in the world.
- Master of Your Domain: Alex learns how to control his heartrate from a Buddhist monk. He later uses it to stop his heart to avoid being killed in a hospital bed by one of his sister's assassins before Waking Up at the Morgue.
- Mind over Matter: Alex in particular shows off some impressive telekinetic powers.
- Missing Steps Plan: Helena attempts to Take Over the World by using her scanning ability during a countrywide broadcast. Since the signal's effects depend on a non-stop, continuous broadcast, this would inevitably fail, as Helena would need to sleep or eat at some point. Of course, by this point she's also clearly insane by repeatedly dosing herself with Ephemerol-3, so she probably didn't put much thought into it.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When the drug wears off momentarily, Helena realizes what she's done and is distraught, but takes the drug again. She's also like this just before she commits suicide at the end.
- My Greatest Failure: Alex accidentally kills his best friend at the start, and goes into self-imposed isolation for many years in a Buddhist monastery in Asia.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Helena is apparently meant to be Canadian, but the actress's thick Polish accent comes through a lot.
- Perma-Stubble: Alex when he returns home.
- Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Helena kills her father by having him drown himself in a hot tub. She also directs a corporate enemy of hers to jump off his pool's diving board into an empty pool.
- Psycho Serum: Ephemerol 3 is an untested new version of the drug. After she takes it, Helena turns evil.
- Self-Made Orphan: Helena kills her father to take over his pharmaceutical company.
- Sequel Hook: Helena transforms into some sort of energy creature at the end of the film, but no sequel was made that continued this plotline.
- Sickbed Slaying: One of Helena's assassins, disguised as a hot nurse, tries to kill Alex through lethal injection before she's interrupted by a doctor.
- Sleeping with the Boss: After Helena takes over her father's company, she schedules an "appointment" with one of her younger execs at her house. It's at this point that she happens to realize that her psychic abilities also work through television signals, and uses him as a guinea pig for this purpose.
- Technopath: Helena mind controls people straight through cameras and television sets.
- Virtual Ghost: After the villainess is defeated, there's an (unresolved) Sequel Hook where her mind leaves her body for a digital form, whereupon she appears on a camerascreen and laughs maniacally.
- Waking Up at the Morgue: Alex temporarily shuts down his heart to fake death in the hospital to avoid a Sickbed Slaying. He later wakes up at the morgue. There's an initial Bait-and-Switch where it seems like the coroner is about to saw open his chest, but it turns out he was working on another body.