Mind Leech – An engaging and fun little monster movie

Directors: Chris Cheeseman, Paul Krysinski
Cast: Steff Ivory Conover, Mischa O’Hoski, Paul Krysinski, Daniel James McGee, Sarah Gates, Veronica Matthews, Chris Cheeseman
Running time: 61 mins

Co-directed by Chris Cheeseman and Paul Krysinski, this cheap and cheerful creature feature delivers plenty of gory thrills, despite clocking in at a slimline 61 minutes. It’s even more impressive when you consider that the cast and crew more or less improvised the entire thing.

Set in snowy Provinstate, Canada, the story begins with two redneck idiots (Cheeseman and Hugh Goodden) shooting a hole in a cannister of toxic waste that they’ve just dumped in the river. As the opening credits play, a cloud of green goo seeps into the water and we know that it won’t be long before this particular action has gooey consequences.

Sure enough, happy-go-lucky angler Craig Hoser (Krysinski) gets a nasty shock when a giant goo-mutated leech leaps out of the icy water and attaches itself to his brain, instantly turning him into a psychotic murderer. His axe-wielding killing spree attracts the attention of two cops – Deputy Terrika ‘TJ’ Johnson (Steff Ivory Conover) and Sheriff Ben Pailey (Mischa O’Hoski) – but do they have what it takes to tackle their giant brain-sucking adversary?

The trick to successful improvisation lies in making it look like you’re not improvising, and that’s certainly the case here, as the dialogue feels natural and convincing, rather than forced and over-the-top. Consequently, the characters emerge as likeable, believeable people, particularly in the case of the two cops, whose warm-hearted relationship is very engaging.

Cheeseman and Krysinski clearly know their way around the requirements of the genre, ensuring that there’s plenty of the red stuff splashing about. Indeed, considering the presumably low budget, the effects work is surprisingly good, with both a convincing-looking creature (albeit a comically large one) and decent gore moments.

The direction is consistently impressive. One particular stand-out moment involves a clever fake-out, whereby a character gets the sort of speech that ought to mark him out as the main protagonist, only for him to become the leech’s first victim and not get any more dialogue. Similarly, the directors include a superb effects shot to indicate that the leech has taken control of its victim’s brain, a little touch that makes all the difference.

In the lead role, Steff Ivory Conover makes a strong impression as TJ, delivering a colourful performance that leaves you hoping there’s a sequel. Her improvised swearing also feels entirely appropriate, while still being amusing. There’s also engaging support from O’Hoski, while Krysinski has a good line in leech-possessed twitchiness.

In short, this is an engaging and fun little monster movie that deserves to find an audience. It also marks out Cheeseman and Krysinski as horror talents to watch – here’s hoping they get to make a follow-up.

Rating: 3 out of 5.


  • Matthew Turner

    A lifelong film fanatic, Matthew Turner (FilmFan1971) is a London-based critic and author, as well as the co-host of Fatal Attractions, a podcast on erotic thrillers. His favourite film is Vertigo and he hasn't missed an episode of EastEnders since 1998.