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Mindhunters is one of those cool, scrappy B movies like Pitch Black, Deep Blue Sea, or Breakdown. With a humble budget and humble aspirations, it cuts to the chase and is so focused on its task that it works wonderfully.

A class of 8 young FBI profilers are about to graduate — at least some of them are. Their big final exam, so to speak, will take place on an island off the east coast of the U.S. The job of these 8 students is to find the crime scene of “the puppetmaster,” and before the weekend is out, have a workable profile of their killer.

They spot the crime scene, but their leader sets off a Rube Goldberg trap that results in his own death. Suddenly, the students are out of the simulation and fighting for their lives. They imagine the killer must be one of them, because the rest of the island is deserted. But who is it? The students try to work together, but their mutual mistrust keeps them from fully cooperating.

The movie works both a as a horror film — with a fairly high body count and several gruesome deaths — and as a whodunit.

None of this is to say that Mindhunters is a great film. It isn’t. Still, the movie has no pretensions, and it gets right down to business. When the final line of cheesy action-movie dialogue is delivered, you can laugh at it or with it — take your pick — knowing that you’ve seen an unapologetic B movie. At least you will have been entertained.

DVD Extras

Lost your mind? Who ya gonna call?
Lost your mind? Who ya gonna call?

Mindhunters is a decent little thriller, but it’s not so good that fans will care what went on behind the scenes. On the DVD are three featurettes, none of which are much better than average.

A walk through “crimetown” with Renny Harlin explains where the movie was shot (a cool building in Holland, although from Harlin it sounds like “Poland”). The featurette on stunt sequences is completely dismissable.

Profiling Mindhunters is a featurette that tells us that the cast and crew did their FBI homework. It also lets those involved praise each other for their hard work. Again, this is average stuff at best.

The audio commentary by Harlin is, at least, not bad. He’s sounds as if he’s recorded enough commentaries to knows what’s of interest and what’s not. He talks of script meetings where they tried to think of clever, funny ways to kill off the characters. He also speaks frankly of his limited budget, of needing to work in Europe for price breaks, and of using digital effects and timing as a practical, inexpensive alternative.

Those of us who bemoan the loss of craftsmanship to digital shortcuts do not have an ally in Harlin. But he’s a practical director, and for him, his methods work. He may be no Stanley Kubrick, but his thrillers are pretty good for what they are, so vive la difference.

Picture and Sound

The DVD picture quality seems to be fine, but having seen several gorgeous movies at home recently, Mindhunters seems a little mundane. There are rich blacks, bright whites, and as Harlin mentions, no dearth of colors — he compares his film to those of directors who prefer to wash out the color in high-contrast, nighttime scenes. But somehow the look of this DVD just isn’t very impressive.

The sound is encoded in Dolby Digital, and helps to set the mood of the mysterious island.