And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


eXistenZ (1999)
Intimacy, Cronenberg style.

Know what could’ve made this creepier? A funk-a-delic porn soundtrack. Ah yeah! Cronenberg style, baby.

…yes, but, after M. Butterfly, and especially after Crash, writer/director David Cronenberg suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous critical fortune and the inevitable backlash from snobs. Either horror snobs scoffed at his Chinese Opera movie, or the art house snobs called his sex-and-car-crashes movie “pretentious.” And when the San Francisco Chronicle calls you “pretentious” you’ve either made it to the Absolute Height of North American cinema…or you’re in serious trouble.

Alright. Not too serious, but still…I can see why, after all that, he went back to the well for a refresher. Back to the ol’ Body Horror stomping grounds that were so good to him in the 70s and 80s. Back to the concerns and questions that haunt his entire career. Questions of identity when your biology runs riot. Questions of ethics and morality in a world of simulacra. Questions of humanity in an age that does its best to reduce, marginalize, and (should it fail in the first two) eliminate human beings.

When this film premiered in April, 1999, my only question was, “Has the well finally run dry?” Continue reading

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