Autism Through Cinema

Scanners (1981) dir. David Cronenberg

October 6, 2022

Hold onto your heads, we're back at you with another horror film just in time for spooky season. Ethan takes Alex and David into the splattery world of David Cronenberg via his 1981 brain-exploding psychological thriller Scanners.

We ponder whether the eponymous telepaths might stand in for an oppressed neurodivergent group, while reflecting on Cronenberg's apparent anti-psychiatry stance. There's a power-play in the film from authority figures seeking to control the scanners, set against a slightly more fascistic ideology of scanner revolution, and we wonder where to place heroism and villainy in this headache of a story. The discussion winds its way to a reflection on the extensive problems around the anti-vaxx movement and we find many parallels with this film and the story of a certain Dr Wakefield. David even starts to ask if science-fiction horror has helped to fuel an anti-science rhetoric? Nevertheless, there is much to enjoy in the gurning faces of the characters, and the gutsy bodyhorror that Cronenberg specialises in. 

We would therefore send a little content warning to those of you interested in watching this film - at times it is pretty horrible, and deals with a lot of dark and disturbing themes.

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