The movie The Sender (1982) is a supernatural horror film about a young man with psychic abilities who is pursued by government agents. The movie follows his escape to a mental hospital where his powers threaten the other patients.
The Sender opens with a young amnesiac, John Doe #83, attempting suicide by drowning himself in the ocean. He is rescued and sent to a mental hospital run by Dr. David Farris. John seems to have powerful psychic abilities that allow him to telepathically project his nightmarish visions into the minds of others around him. This begins driving the other patients insane as they experience his terrifying hallucinations.
Dr. Farris discovers John has been heavily drugged to suppress his abilities by a group claiming to be from the Department of Health. In truth, they are part of a secret government project trying to weaponize psychic powers. Dr. Farris refuses to surrender John to them. The agents continue trying to recapture John while also secretly dosing the hospital’s water supply with the drugs to inhibit his telepathy.
The movie The Sender (1982) shows John forming a close relationship with another patient named Jeri while also learning about his mysterious past from Dr. Farris. In his youth, John already exhibited frightening psychic talents after suffering abuse from his mother. After a traumatic incident where he seemingly caused fires to erupt through his visions, the government took him and suppressed his abilities.
The agents infiltrate the hospital and get John alone. When he refuses to cooperate with them, they activate a psychic pain implant in his brain, amplifying his powers. Jeri is caught in the crossfire, experiencing agonizing visions and lapsing into a coma. An enraged John uses his telekinesis to gruesomely kill the agents.
Now uncontrolled, John proceeds to psychically attack the mental hospital staff, believing they conspired against him. Dr. Farris confronts John but is unable to calm him down. The trauma of the situation causes John’s powers to build to dangerous levels threatening to destroy the hospital. Left with no other choice, Dr. Farris shoots John. The movie The Sender (1982) ends with order restored but questions remaining about John’s origins.
- Kathryn Harrold as Dr. Gail Farris
- Zeljko Ivanek as John Doe #83
- Paul Freeman as Dr. David Farris
- Sean Hewitt as Detective Muse
- Rebecca Balding as Jeri Wilson
The movie was filmed at a real mental hospital that had been closed down.
Director Roger Christian went on to work in set design on the Star Wars films.
John’s character was based in part on the story of Kaspar Hauser.