Scanner Darkly is referred to as science-fiction, and sure, its in the future and has those scramble suits, so that makes sense. But theres an underlying threat throughout the entire course of the film that takes the story away from science fiction and into the realm of psychological horror. Is there anything scarier than the loss of self? Is there anything more terrifying than having your life slip away from your control? The idea of having to experience that, of having to watch helplessly while your reality breaks down, is almost too much to bear. Scanner Darklys deadliest trick is that it sells the viewer on the fun that a lifestyle of wanton drug use promises. It portrays a care-free life of slackerdoom, of long afternoons and evenings chilling out with your friends in a blitzed out haze. Director Richard Linklater takes his time, really entrenching you into the rhythms of this way of life, getting you to enjoy spending time with Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelsons goofballs. They spend their time having rapid-fire discussions of life, theorizing and philosophizing the days away. And then the rug gets pulled. The trip turns bad and the house is gradually revealed to be a breeding pool for paranoia and unpleasant hallucinations. Suicides are committed. People turn on each other. And Keanu Reevess undercover cop completely loses track of what is real, who he is, and what it is hes trying to do. Phillip K. Dick was a life-long drug addict, so he knew what he was talking about. He clearly loves and understands these people, but he also loathes them, and himself, for what they did to their minds and bodies. The film (which is almost word-for-word in its adaptation) carries that torch, and it empathizes with these doomed characters, but both film and book are unflinching in portraying the self-destructive tailspin. MOST HORROR MOMENT: Reeves is given a test to see how warped his perspective has become. The answer is very.
Brendan Foley is a pop-culture omnivore which is a nice way of saying he has no taste. He has a passion for genre movies, TV shows, books and any and all media built around short people with hairy feet and magic rings. He has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Writing, which is a very nice way of saying that he's broke. You can follow/talk to/yell at him on Twitter at @TheTrueBrendanF.