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EXISTENZ

Canada / UK, 1999 (MIFF 1999, International Panorama)

Director: David Cronenberg

In the near future, a group of players gather to try out eXistenz, the latest in full-immersion VR game technology. eXistenz is the brainchild of the games world's most notorious genius, Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), it incorporates experiences indistinguishable from reality and is utterly addictive. Players have gone so far as to have game ports surgically implanted in the base of their spines. Personalised game control pods are 'grown' by infusing fertilised amphibian cells with human DNA.

David Cronenberg, master of the macabre, returns to the themes and motifs of his early movies such as Shivers, Scanners and Videodrome. Tapping into contemporary paranoia and ubiquitous conspiracy culture, eXistenz the film plays at incorporating eXistenz the game into its narrative to the point where there is uncertainty as to what is authentic reality. It's a fascinating and totally involving stratagem that is seamlessly knitted into the narrative.

A Silver Bear Award-winner at the Berlin Film Festival, eXistenz follows Allegra as she goes on the run after an assassinaiion attempt. No-one is certain whether anti-game rebels, competition game companies or even her own employers want her dead. Under the protection of bodyguard Ted (Jude Law), the pair dodge covert operatives and perilous episodes before jointly entering the world of eXistenz and the lethal game within a game, transCendenz.

Inspired by the Fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie and sharing a similar brain-trying intensity as the fiction of Philip K. Dick (the literary source for Bladerunner and Total Recall), eXistenz is fearful fun by a director all too familiar with creeping dread.

See also...

TAXIDERMIA

Hungary, 2006
Three generations of a family pursue their own peculiar desires in György Pálfi's Taxidermia, a film that revels in the crude physicality of human condition. Following a Hungarian family line down … More »

MOON

UK, USA, 2008

2009
The directorial debut of Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie), this claustrophobic sci-fi feature stars Sam Rockwell and the voice of Kevin Spacey. ... Heralding a fresh renaissance in indie sci-fi flic… More »

VIDEODROME

Canada, 1983
A densely-plotted, witty, fatalistic horror-cum-morality tale with truly gruesome special effects. A cable TV director becomes fascinated with the hard core sex-and-torture programmes on Videodrome, … More »

TETSUO 2: THE BODY HAMMER

Japan, 1991
... ... Shinya Tsukamoto's original Tetsuo: The Iron Man, was a hyper-energized account of a young man who suddenly discovers that his body parts have been replaced with sharp metal blades. Little se… More »

Blue

USA, 1992
Don McKellar (writer of Roadkill and Highway 61, in which he also appears) turns director, with astounding success (see also Bloody Nose) and stellar casting. David Cronenberg stars as Tom Cramer, a … More »

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