Dark Mind is a low budget independent thriller / drama / noir starring Christopher Masterson of Malcolm in the Middle fame as a paranoid young inventor during the McCarthy era who is both socially awkward and anxious about foreign agents getting a hold of his work, a rather nebulous device he's been working on called the Cube, a device visually reminiscent of the cube from Hellraiser. Masterson's character, Paul, has good reasons to be paranoid. The film establishes him early on as a naïve idealist and a wunderkind inventor when his father and mentor take advantage of him by stealing his work and profiting from it. Left penniless and alone after his mother's death, Paul becomes increasingly isolated as he obsesses over the cube. His only companionship is a young waitress played by Lyndsy Fonseca, who takes an interest in Paul as he spends a lot of time at the diner she works in.
Dark Mind tries to play off the fanatic paranoia of the McCarthy era: the time period is emphasized by the ranting on the talk radio that Paul listens to as he works on his creation. While this time period is never quite convincingly portrayed, it's an interesting idea and works within the framework of the movie itself - just don't expect an elaborately faithful recreation of the 1950s. The historical setting also informs the twist ending of the movie, which is somewhat expected but still satisfying as a conclusion.
Christopher Masterson's performance as Paul dominates this movie, as it should since it's ultimately a character piece. His portrayal is equal parts Peter Parker and the PC Guy from the Apple television commercials (if those characters ever went crazy, that is), and borders on being over-the-top. There's a nice sense of very dark humor, though, and Masterson handles it well.
While I liked the movie, it often seemed to me that this could have been a better film had it not been clearly limited by its budget. The film seems set-bound in a simplistic way at times, and perhaps the dialogue could have used tweaking. Some of the interactions between characters were unnecessarily stilted. Regardless, the film works as a minor suspense thriller that passes the time entertainingly enough.
Dark Mind is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer. Much of this film is presented deliberately dark, but the image itself is serviceable.
Though not mentioned on the DVD's cover art, Dark Mind gives the viewer two audio options: 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Dolby Stereo tracks. Both sound fine if unremarkable.
Also not mentioned on the cover art is a director's commentary track option by director Nicholas Peterson with actor Christopher Masterson and others involved in the making of Dark Mind. Their discussion of the film is lively and fairly interesting if you're really into the film.
There were many bonus features on this DVD. Here's an overview:
Visual EFX Featurette: In this short featurette, the director Nicholas Peterson discusses the visual effects utilized in the film. It features several split screens with original pre-effects footage and the final product.
White Room Featurette: This featurette presents raw footage of the creation of the "white room" scene, with an introduction by Peterson, followed by the scene itself. This featurette, running 30 minutes, would only be of interest to die-hard fans of the movie.
Creating the Music: Jasper Randall, the film composer, discusses the music he wrote for the movie. This featurette lasts just over 3 minutes.
Creating the World: Nicholas Peterson discusses character and production designs. This featurette has a lot of storyboards / concept art and runs about 3 ½ minutes.
Gag Reel: Some outtakes from the film that last 2 ½ minutes.
Slide Show: A brief slide show of stills from the making of the movie accompanied by the score.
Early Animatic: Peterson introduces a six minute animatic used to raise money for the movie. Peterson admits that the film's low budget necessitated many scenes being cut; this animatic helps fill in those missing scenes.
While these featurettes were interesting for the most part, I couldn't help but feel that they could have been edited together into one feature instead of being fragmented like this. The bonus features also include a trailer for Dark Mind.
Dark Mind, despite its low budget, is a very watchable thriller with an effective, if a little obvious, twist ending. One can't help but think this could have been a really entertaining thriller if it had had a larger budget and another draft or two of the screenplay.