Some movies are so bad they’re good.
Mind Leech, though, is a pretty good film that’s only pretending to be bad. It’s definitely low-budget – at times it almost looks like it’s no budget. And its cheesy face-sucking monster looks like it crawled out of some old straight-to-VHS horror.
But that’s the point and sort of the joke. And if you’re willing to laugh along with it, you can have a pretty good time. For a while.
Set in the sort of rural Canada that “SCTV” used to make fun of, the story starts when a couple of hosers decide to dump toxic waste in a lake. This leads, as it so often does, to immediate genetic mutations — and suddenly a mind-sucking parasite is on the loose.
Not only is this invertebrate hungry, it’s definitely antisocial. Everyone it bites immediately becomes a homicidal maniac – and pretty soon the body count is rising, and the already small cast is growing even smaller.
You shouldn’t take this story seriously, but the cast and crew aren’t goofing off. Although judging by the credits, many people are doing several jobs, the cinematography is colorful and crisp. The dialogue is occasionally out of synch, but the synth music has a nice retro feel, and there’s little of the ham acting you usually see in pictures like this.
In fact, as the deputy sheriff on the case, Steff Ivory Conover is solid and low-key believable throughout. The fact that she’s a stocky woman of color – not the sort of performer who usually gets a lead role, even in a campy horror movie – makes her all the more appealing.
Too bad she doesn’t get more to do. That the filmmakers clearly wanted to improvise most of the script is fine, but at times you wonder if they even had a script. New characters pop up out of nowhere, and sometimes simply disappear. And far too many scenes consist of people seeing something disgusting and repeatedly exclaiming, “What the f…”.
Eventually the film runs out of ideas, or time, or money. In fact, things don’t so much conclude as just end; before an hour is even up, the final credits are rolling.
And that’s a shame. With a little more effort, the people behind Mind Leech really could have had something, a sort of Great White North neighbor to James Gunn’s Slither. And the fact that they don’t, and are content to simply just leave us hanging – well, like the titular monster, it sucks.