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Crimes of the Future: David Cronenberg's Return to Horror

5/18/2022 • 4 min read

David Cronenberg is back! The Canadian filmmaker shocked audiences with movies like THE FLY and DEAD RINGERS, and is best known for a string of movies in a subgenre affectionately called "body horror". Cronenberg fuses realistic characters with themes of transformation and icky horror that trigger our most primal instincts as he visualizes absolutely unspeakable things happening to the human body.

The director has not made a feature film since 2014‘s MAPS TO THE STARS. In fact, his last movie fit in with his most famous body horror movies was 1999's EXISTENZ, a mind-bendingly on-point deconstruction of the relationships between video games, escapism, and morality.

Now Cronenberg returns with CRIMES OF THE FUTURE. Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart star in a story that follows a pair of performance artists whose primary medium is surgery, and the unusual federal agent who has a keen interest in the duo. This one is not for the faint of heart, folks.

Not Your Typical Horror

 

If you’re already a fan of the director, we probably don’t need to say anything further than "new David Cronenberg movie." But for anyone who is a little less familiar with Cronenberg, maybe a few words are in order.

It is not wrong to call CRIMES OF THE FUTURE a horror movie, but it is not a horror movie like, well, virtually any other horror movie. Cronenberg‘s movies go for excess through unblinking visual intensity, and in a deliberately paced unfolding of highly unusual circumstances.

In other words, there are probably no jump scares in this movie. This is a movie that wants to freak you out with ideas, and with the constantly unfolding sensation that, yes, things are going to get a lot more bizzare before the credits roll.

The Return of the King

Helping make the deeply unsettling events of the movie more palatable is an element that has often anchored Cronenberg movies. This is a director who commands enormous respect from actors, and that shows in the caliber of performers he is able to recruit to do some very odd things.

CRIMES OF THE FUTURE is Cronenberg‘s third movie with actor Viggo Mortensen, following A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, and EASTERN PROMISES. (The latter earned Mortensen a Best Actor Oscar nomination.) As his character's partner, Léa Seydoux gets to do some of the strangest things an actor can do on the big screen. And Kristen Stewart is along for the ride, too, as an agent who is more interested in Mortensen and Seydoux's oddball art than she really should be.

That Indescribable Feeling

It is thrilling to go into a movie that you know will be highly eccentric and made for art's sake, and still be surprised at what unfolds on the screen. We're excited that David Cronenberg is back on his game (perhaps inspired by his son, who has also been making some very provocative movies) and can easily imagine that, like EXISTENZ, CRIMES OF THE FUTURE will only seem more pointed as we race into our own future.

 

CRIMES OF THE FUTURE opens on June 3.

 

All images courtesy of NEON.

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