Scanners is a 1981 Canadian science-fiction horror film written and directed by David Cronenberg and starring Stephen Lack, Jennifer O’Neill, Michael Ironside, and Patrick McGoohan. In the film, “scanners” are people with unusual telepathic and telekinetic powers.
In a shopping mall, homeless social outcast Cameron Vale telepathically causes a female gawker to have a seizure before being chased down, sedated, and captured by the private military company ConSec. Vale is part of a group of 247 super-powered individuals known as “scanners” capable of telepathy and psychokinesis which ConSec is attempting to recruit to stop a malevolent underground ring of scanners led by Darryl Revok, a former mental patient who trepanned his own skull to cope with an uncontrollable stream of thoughts which also drove Vale insane.
Revok, who is killing all opposing scanners, infiltrates a ConSec marketing event and telepathically causes ConSec’s other scanner’s head to explode before escaping. ConSec security head Braedon Keller advocates shutting down ConSec’s scanner research program but program head Dr. Paul Ruth, who believes the scanners’ abilities are the next stage of human evolution, disagrees and notes that the assassination demonstrates Revok’s danger. Dr. Ruth brings in Vale and injects him with ephemerol, which restores his sanity by temporarily inhibiting his scanning ability. Ruth explains that Vale was driven mad by his uncontrolled powers and asks him to help infiltrate Revok’s group. Guided by Ruth, Vale learns to control his scanning abilities.