After unveiling her new virtual-reality project eXistenZ, superstar game designer Allegra is attacked by an anti-gaming group. She is rescued by Ted, and insists that they play the game to know if it has been damaged. They soon find out that their sense of reality can become dangerously distorted.
A true thriller for the virtual reality age! Landing in cinemas alongside The Matrix, Cronenberg rewired his cult classic Videodrome for the world of video games, creating a quintessential 90s mind-bender that stared down the millennium with paranoid eyes. Starring Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
The last time Cronenberg made an honest-to-god B movie, but also the last time the director gave us his classic body horror, with mutated game consoles and butt plugs. While it plays a lot with the viewer's perception (Is it real, or it is virtual?), it doesn't seem to fascinate him as much. It is a dumb movie about a dumb culture - and Paul W.S. Anderson beats him handily.
This is obviously not on the level of Cronenberg's greatest works, but still... His sense of humor is fantastic, his mise-en-scène is modern and weirdly stylish, and I don't think any other filmmaker understands the ascent of digital like he does. His films don't "talk" about technology; they incorporate it in their formal aspects.
One of the most absorbing examples for Cronenberg’s obsession with the body and its penetration as well as - like in „Videodrome“ - with the idea of losing one’s grip to reality. „You have to play the came to find out why you’re playing the game.“ But what if you are not able to distinguish between game (as virtual reality) and life anymore?
I found it really weird as I was watching it, but not in a good way. It felt like it was strange in that Cronenberg just didn't know how people interact in real situations. Then I got to the end, and I realized he was purposefully imitating video game scripts, which is very, very clever, as is this movie on the whole. It's also very fun. I've noticed I never really like a Cronenberg movie till I think about it.
This is to the 90s what Videodrome was to the 80s; a clever satire about the dangers of playing too many videogames. The real treat here is Cronenberg's visual imagination, there are so many cool designs and ideas going on here, and while similar films explored themes of reality around this era, none did so as successfully as this one. My favorite scene: the Chinese Restaurant.
Call it The Matrix Preloaded or Inception: The Beginning, just call it original. Cronenberg makes a movie just as brilliant and innovative as the above two, possibly more. And just when you think he's in over his head, he's a got a few more tricks up his sleeve.
Why would you mention that it came out at the same time as 'The Matrix'? 'The Matrix' was a visionary film. This was a retread of Videodrome. It has his custom gross-out factor, but it's not put together very well, nor is it even slightly believable.