Wylie Writes @ TISH ’23 – ‘Mind Leech’

By: Jeff Ching

Mind Leech was the closing film at the Toronto International Spring of Horror & Fantasy Film Festival.

There’s a charm to movies where the entire plot is explained in its title. Snakes on a PlaneCocaine Bear, and the action/thriller short film that preceded Mind Leech called Greed and Gore which was about greedy people meeting their demise in very gory ways. 

If you guessed that Mind Leech’s plot is about a leech that latches on to people’s bodies and mind-controls them, well, ding ding ding!  Though in this case, the leech is massive and looks comically absurd and cheesy, but that’s to the movie’s strength.  It’s a funny visual that lets audiences know that this movie isn’t taking itself too seriously.

From directors Paul Krysinski (Dark Before Dawn: Convoy) and Chris Cheeseman, Mind Leech wears its campiness on its sleeve and embraces the absurd.  The only thing is that the filmmakers don’t lean in enough to make a truly memorable movie.  This is still a fun horror-comedy but, on the other hand, I highly doubt that this is a movie that I’ll remember a year from now.  In February, I absolutely urged people to go to theatre to see Cocaine Bear, which has become, kind of, like the Citizen Kane of campy “the entire plot of the movie is described in the movie’s title” B-movies.  Cocaine Bear knew how ridiculous it was and, therefore, had so much fun cranking the excessive gore, the intentional cheesy-as-hell looking CGI bear, and the utterly absurd humour.  Because of this, it created a fun screening experience that drew huge laughs from the crowd.  Mind Leech, which doesn’t resonate as well, is better suited to stream at home.

Cheeseman and Krysinski are working with a solid cast though.  The characters could be fleshed out more, but the natural performances never feel like the actors are trying to be funny.  Krysinski (who also stars in the movie) and Daniel James McGee are enjoyable to watch as two best friends, taking part in life’s simple pleasures of drinking beers and ice fishing…despite the fact that they never catch any damn fish!  They have solid comedic chemistry, and it wouldn’t have hurt to see more of their interactions before the mind leech strikes them.  There are also two cops trying to make sense of movie’s plot, played by Steff Ivory Conover and Mischa O’Hoski, who have a believable friendship as well.

While it’s fun to see the characters get taken over by the titular creature, it isn’t anything new.  Mind Leech needed to do something to differentiate itself from other bodysnatcher flicks, like diving into gory body horror or exploring other psychological developments about how the leeches are able to take over people;  such as the aforementioned Greed and Gore which, I feel, upstaged Mind Leech.  By going “all in” on the violence, the audience was engaged with the short more than the feature that followed it.

Mind Leech is a brisk 60 minutes, and the ending is bittersweet.  On one hand, it’s wrap-up is clever but, on the other hand, I was left expecting more (“That’s it? It’s over?”).  Yes, this method is simple, lean, and effective.  But, why so timid?  In a world where the most common complaint about Hollywood movies is that they’re too long and a solid 20-to-30 minutes could be cut, Mind Leech is the exception that could use an extra 20-to-30 minutes.

Final rating: *** (out of 5)


Read more of Jeff Ching’s thoughts on film at The Ching of Comedy’s blog.

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