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Film / Scanners II: The New Order

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Scanners II: The New Order is a sci-fi horror film from 1990. The first sequel to David Cronenberg's 1981 Scanners, it featured no involvement from Cronenberg or his crew, and was directed by fellow Canadian Christian Duguay.

In an unnamed city, another drifter named Peter Drak (Raoul Trujillo) is introduced howling at the sky in agony and is arrested after he destroys an entire arcade hall using only his mind. He is inducted by police commander Forrester (Yvan Pontom), who runs a covert unit in his department together with the research scientist Doctor Morse (Tom Butler) to gather scanners for the force. However, they are having problems with their subjects becoming addicted to and eventually decaying from the new strand of the Ephemerol drug, Eph 2.

Enter David Kellum (David Hewlett), a medical student preparing to become a vet. David has recently moved into the city from the countryside and has inexplicable trouble adjusting to the city. When he kills a pair of thugs to save his girlfriend, he realizes his scanning potential and is picked up by Forrester. The commander teaches David how to use his powers and to help him fight the crime wave affecting the city, but David soon learns he might have ulterior motives.

This film provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Going by the age of actor David Hewlett and his backstory, the film would technically be set in 2004. Of course, it looks an awful lot like 1991. There's even a shot of a newspaper at one point clearly establishing the film being set in the early '90s.
  • Amoral Attorney: Forrester makes himself a public favorite by dispatching a corrupt lawyer who works for drug kingpins.
  • Asshole Victim: David kills two armed, masked robbers in a convenience store hold-up to save his girlfriend after they kill the two clerks and hold her hostage.
  • Ate His Gun: The police chief kills himself by putting his gun in his mouth, prompted by Drak.
  • Ax-Crazy: Peter Drak is a psychopathic murderer whose only joy is killing people.
  • Big Bad: As the main villain, Commander Forrester provides the impetus for the plot by enslaving the scanners and using them to get himself in power, all out of megalomania.
  • Blown Across the Room: Drak uses his mind to toss around a security guard in the arcade hall. David does the same thing to one of the armed robbers in the convenience store and two of Forrester's henchmen at Morse's lab.
  • Canada Does Not Exist: Much like the first film, the North American setting is left deliberately vague. Dialogue suggests it's more America than Canada, with references to US cities being overrun with crime and David's childhood home being in Vermont.
  • The City vs. the Country: David lived all his life in the countryside and finds his move to the city jarring. Justified due to being a psychic who can't drown out the telepathic chatter, so he finds city life inherently noisy and confusing.
  • Co-Dragons: Commander Forrester is mainly assisted by Peter Drak, a scanner inducted into Forrester's 'special unit' and Officer Gelson, one of Forrester's corrupt police lackeys.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: When Drak informs David of Forrester's bad intentions, David dismisses it with "You're crazy!". Drak points out that while that may be true, it doesn't mean that he's wrong.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Commander Forrester wants to seize power by building an army of psychic 'scanners' to keep everyone else in line. He uses the psychics for brainwashing and assassination to position himself into increasingly higher public offices. He kills the chief of police, compels the mayor to appoint him as his replacement and kills her as well when she finds out too much.
    • Forrester's lackey Officer Gelson enthusiastically participates in his boss's plans to exploit the scanners and take over society.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In the end the Scanners who were abused and turned into dying drug addicts by Forrester and his men help the hero by fighting back to kill Forrester's Dragon, using their collective powers to incinerate him.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The new version of Ephemerol inevitably causes mental and physical deterioration while also being very addictive. Those psychics who take it inevitably turn into dying drug addicts in less than a year.
  • Engineered Public Confession: David forces Forrester to reveal his plans and admit his crimes in front of the press at the end.
  • Fantastic Drug: The second movie introduces a new generation of Ephemerol, but it's highly addictive and debilitating long-term. The terminally addicted scanners look remarkably like a mix between meth addicts and cancer victims.
  • Evil Laugh: Drak is prone to doing this after causing destruction and killing people, like at the arcade hall and after blowing up Gelson's head.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Peter Drak is by far the most melodramatic of the villains, gleefully killing people with his mind and laughing about it afterwards. By contrast, during his most evil act (murdering David's elderly mother for no reason) he is deliberately calm and quiet.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: David and Julie kill Dr. Morse with a massive overdose of his own drug to pay him back for destroying Julie's boyfriend Walter.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: This seems to be the reason why David doesn't kill Forrester at the end and to make it clear to the public that scanners are not a threat to them.
  • In the Back: After Forrester is forced to admit to his crimes in front of the public, he spitefully grabs a shotgun so he can try to shoot David from behind.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: The hero David Kellum has a more intense animosity with his evil psychic counterpart Peter Drak than with the scheming mastermind Commander Forrester. While David eventually decides to let Forrester live and be taken into custody to prove that he's better than him, Drak is a sadistic psychopath who gleefully murdered David's mother and dies painfully at David's hands in retribution.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: David's (adoptive) parents reveal that he's actually the offspring of Cameron Vale and Kim Obrist from the first Scanners and also has a sister who lives up north.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Morse uses his neurological research institute to enslave psychics with his dangerous drugs and use them for Commander Forrester's megalomaniac purposes.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Officer Gelson's eyes turn milky white when David and Julie take over his body to infiltrate Dr. Morse's lab.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Commander Forrester dismisses Drak as a psychopath when he expresses to the Mad Doctor that they need new scanners to work for them. However, he does not disapprove of Drak's actions, using him as a hired gun at several points; it's just that someone who's obviously Ax-Crazy is more difficult for him to control. Not only does Drak casually expose Forrester's plans to David, therefore making the latter suspicious of and eventually turn against him, he later murders Forrester's second-in-command, Lieutenant Gelson.
  • Precious Puppies: David and Alice are seen caring for a laboratory puppy, which they name Trooper. David gives it to Alice as a present and she's later seen with it in her apartment.
  • Psycho for Hire: Peter Drak gets a lot of enjoyment out of using his mind to mutilate and kill people in gory ways. The corrupt Commander Forrester laments that his psychopathic tendencies make him much too difficult to control even with the use of drugs.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Peter Drak's childish glee when he hurts people using only his mind and general immaturity reminds one of a sadistic kid using a magnifying glass on ants. He even likens one of his cruelest murders to playing with puppets.
  • Psycho Serum: Ephemerol 2 is highly addictive, and severely debilitating long-term to the scanners. This does a good job of updating to a Drugs Are Bad theme, as Forrester can thus use the drug to control them - the earlier version of the drug was just a training aid, and full-trained scanners had no need of it.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Peter Drak forces the police chief to eat his own gun.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Continuing the convention from the first film. A scanner even lampshades it with a joke when he scans a corrupt drug lawyer and causes the guy's nose to bleed. He quips that it's probably due to the cocaine the guy was snorting.
  • Team Killer: Drak is so murderously insane that he actually poses a liability to his own employers. He murders his partner Gelson in an extremely cruel manner just to hurt David, who was mind-controlling Gelson at that time.
  • Technopath: Drak is playing an arcade game. Then he does it without his hands. Then he takes control of the entire arcade hall, setting a panic, and blowing it up.
  • Take Over the City: Commander Forrester advocates the creation of a "New Order" to "cure" the cities of crime, which really means that he'll be in control of everything. He tries to build an army of scanners to keep the rest of society in line, and uses their abilities to get himself into successively higher public offices, going from police commander to police chief and planning to run for mayor next throughout the film.
  • Taking You with Me: After Forrester's plan is definitively foiled, he makes one last attempt to kill David by grabbing one of the police officer's shotguns. David stops him with his powers and nearly kills him in return.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Nobody seems to notice that Gelson's eyes have just turned stark white when he's under David and Julie's mind control.
  • Villain Opening Scene: Long before David is introduced as the hero, the movie opens with Peter Drak walking the streets and screaming at the sky out of mental pain. Then he walks into an arcade hall and destroys it completely, causing a total panic before blowing it up. A nice contrast to the first Scanners where the vagrant psychic drifter accidentally does something bad before he's picked up by the organization that wants to recruit him. Except here it's a knowingly evil villain.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Forrester tries to use the press to get himself in power and presents himself as an upstanding citizen who wants to end the intensifying crime wave in the cities. They willingly go along until his real plan (to establish order by creating a police state) is finally revealed.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Commander Forrester seems to sincerely believe that he's saving society by creating a police state to 'cure' crime, as the city is plagued by violent armed robbers, child killers and drug lawyers. His means of doing this is to keep everyone in line with an army of psychics.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Drak's rebuttal to David when he tries to reason with him to use his powers for good is that killing people is more fun.
    Peter Drak: Power doesn't make you good, David. It just makes you powerful.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!: David offers Drak to use their powers to protect each other, since they're both scanners and expendable in Forrester's eyes. Drak knows this, but prefers to use it to kill people and tries to eat David's mind.
  • You Killed My Father: Drak murders David's adoptive mother with glee. David and the addicted scanners group together to kill him.
  • Your Head Asplode: Peter Drak blows up Officer Gelson's head while David is occupying his body.
  • You're Insane!: David dismisses Peter Drak's claims about Forrester's evil plans by calling him insane. Drak simply admits to the accusation, but points out it doesn't mean that he's wrong.