The rather brief yet somehow languid Magdalena's Brain hails from a group of indie filmmakers out of Massachusetts, and if it's not the creepy little horror flick that the DVD case seems to promise, then it's at least a half-decent and admirably intelligent low-budgeter that feels more like a solid episode of The Twilight Zone than a full-blown movie movie.
Amy Shelton-White stars as the mobile half of a mega-brilliant husband-wife genius team. Maggie's unfortunate husband, despite being one of the planet's most brilliant scientists, is trapped inside a quadriplegic frame. Following a vague but tragic accident, the pair have lost their medical licenses -- but that won't stop Magdalena from experimenting her little heart out. She's actually very close to creating an artificial intelligence so powerful that it could make things like brain cancer and quadriplegia a distant memory. And that's just for starters.
Wouldn't you know it: Eventually Maggie gets the idea to implant her crippled husband's brilliant brain into the body of a hunky new helper...
Well-acted and inordinately smart for such a small-scale project, but the movie is frequently undone by its slow pacing and general lack of electricity. Once the premise is fully underway, you'll probably want to stick around to see how it all pans out, but I'd be lying if I said Magdalena's Brain breezes right by. (Keep in mind the flick runs less than 76 minutes.)
But if you take Magdalena's Brain as a "calling card" movie, what with its moody and quietly alienating visual style and its numerous brainy concepts, there's quite a lot of good to be found herein. It's mostly just a bunch of talk and then a freaky finalé, but that doesn't make it a bad movie.
Video: The movie is presented in a relatively good-looking widescreen format, with the gloomy and claustrophobic cinematography represented rather well.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, which serves the chat-heavy flick just fine.
Heretic Films does a fine job with the DVD extras, with the main feature with filmmakers Warren Amerman and Marty Langford. The guys keep things humble and pleasant ... if maybe just a little dry.
You'll also find four deleted scenes and three featurettes:
Just Cool It With the Bowling (2:07) shows how tough it is to get a profile shot of a moving bowling ball.
The Drilling of Andrew (4:27) is a look at how the flick's goriest sequence went down.
The Chase (3:37) is a peek at the film's big finalé.
Also included is a music video, a video diary (8:53), and some trailers for Heretic releases of Red Cockroaches, Last Exit, Sacred Flesh, Cold Blood, I'll Bury You Tomorrow, and London Voodoo.
I'll be the first to admit that Magdalena's Brain takes a little time to warm up to, and it clearly comes from a budget-deficient upbringing -- but by the time Act II rolled around, I was relatively curious to see where it was headed. That alone warrants somewhat of a recommendation, provided you don't mind a big side of chit-chat delivered with your sci-fi mind-twisters.