Wednesday, June 1, 2016

To Be or Not

eXistenZ (1999) is the only David Cronenberg movie we've watched so far - and maybe forever. (Actually, we may have seen The Fly, but I get it confused with Altered States.) He seems like a fascinating director, but since his style is gross-out body horror, no thanks. But the boys from FilmSack liked this, and it seemed harmless enough...

It starts with a group of gamers in a church. They are meeting to beta test a new game system "eXisteNz". The game pods are pink and fleshy, with knobby nipples on them and an umbilical cord that you plug into the bioport in your spine. Just as a small group is about to plug in, an anti-gaming fanatic shoots at the game designer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) with an odd, spiny gun. Jude Law hustles her out, but he isn't security; he works in the Marketing department.

Now they are on the run. They don't know who they can trust. Their only hope is to go into the game - for reasons. Very good reasons. Only Law doesn't have a bioport, so they go to a country gas station to get one installed (it's like getting your ear pierced). That's where they meet Gas (Willem Dafoe).

Law makes it pretty plain that getting the port installed is creepy - he doesn't like the idea of being penetrated ... surgically. Once he has been penetrated, Leigh plugs him in, but before she does, she wets a finger and pokes it in, just to get it wet. Not creepy at all, right?

Inside the game, it's pretty much like outside - there are a lot of mutant animal with organs to be harvested for the game pods. It's all pretty disgusting (and gets worse), but not quite nightmare level. But Law is getting a little freaked out about not knowing what is a game and what is real. Leigh seems to be more interested in playing her game than in worrying about getting killed. The sense of unreality that plagues Law is like a drug to her.

I don't want to give away the twists, even though you probably got most of them already. But I bet you don't get all. So it's a neat meta-reality movie with some gross parts, some tense parts and a lot of humor. Still, it might be the last Cronenberg we ever watch.

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