David Cronenberg returns with “Crimes of the Future” to the crudest terror | Premiere of his new film in Cannes

It is, without a doubt, the most famous scene of Scanners, the masters of death (1981). An elegant businessman, wearing glasses and a white collar (Louis of the Great) he is sitting in a library room. He all of a sudden he starts to grimace and squirm. His fingers twitch in an even more manic way. The audience watches with dark fascination. Finally, his head explodes with a huge, orgasmic eruption of blood and guts.

In Invaded bodies (Videodrome, 1983), a video tape begins to swarm and throb. to Max (James Woods) he is invited to “open up” before the cassette is inserted into a horizontal slot in his stomach. When Max reaches into his own guts, the videocassette has mysteriously turned into a weapon. A voice in his head tells him: “Kill your companions.”

and was also rabid1977. After a car accident, Rose (Marilyn Chambers) undergoes radical plastic surgery, resulting in a phallic bloodsucking stinger growing from his armpit.

These are typical “body terror” scenes that appear in the first films of David Cronenberg. Similar moments can be found in many other titles from the director, such as pact of love (1988), with a Jeremy Irons which embodied twin doctors who use sinister gynecological instruments on mutant women. EITHER naked feast (1991), film adaptation of William Burroughs in which a typewriter takes on a life of its own, becoming a wriggling crab-like creature. EITHER The fly (1986), with Jeff Goldblum turning into a gigantic insect. Or the adaptation of J. G. Ballard Crash (1996), which explores the fatal erotic fascination deposited in cars and features a notorious scene of a character having sex with an accident victim’s injured leg.

It’s hard not to feel a certain nostalgia for all those shocking moments. Cronenberg was working at the height of “video horrors.” Invariably, his movies triggered very different reactions. There were always some reviews ready to include the word “infamous”and to describe his work “sick beyond the limits of depravity“. At the same time, others could celebrate him as the latest adherent of a great cinematic tradition that stretched as far as an Andalusian dog (1929), the masterpiece of the surrealism directed by Louis Bunuel and Salvador Dali which began with a scene in which an eyeball was slashed by a knife.

Cronenberg was a figure subversive naturally. He did not regard bodies in the same way as other directors. “When I look at a person, I see this maelstrom of organic, chemical and electron chaos, volatility and tremulous instability; and the ability to change and transform,” he once noted.

Even those who hated or disapproved of Cronenberg’s films were secretly awed by his intelligence and his broad frame of reference. He wasn’t making movies that simply exploited the genre. He was probing taboos and exploring how technology was changing both human behavior and physiology itself. He was a poet of sexual mutation and disease. His films also had a macabre humor. As he admitted in an interview with author Serge Grünberg, he wanted to provoke the public. “I don’t want to make a movie that is loved… I’m looking for some kind of complex reaction. If someone is disturbed or angry, but somehow also seduced and attracted at the same time, then that’s something I like.”

Until recently, however, it seemed that the moment of the Canadian director had already passed. His ideas had been absorbed by the mainstream. recent movies of Marvel What Morbius (2022), in which a sickly scientist gains superhuman strength by absorbing the genes of vampire bats, or poison, with Tom Hardy conquered by an alien parasite, they have plot lines that, a generation ago, might have been more in Cronenberg stories than typical “tanks” for summer.

Cronenberg himself seemed disillusioned with the art of cinema. In various interviews, he adopted an oddly querulous, Mr. Magoo-esque tone, declaring that he had given up going to the movies because he couldn’t find anywhere suitable to park. His most recent productions, A dangerous method (2011), Cosmopolis (2912) and star dust (2014), moved away from the body-horror system with blown-up heads, exploring instead the hysteria of the Freudian era and the psychological neuroses of Hollywood movie stars and their entourage. He even suggested that he might not make any more movies.


That’s why it’s comforting see Cronenberg return to the Cannes International Film Festival with a new production crimes of the future, that promises to have everything you need to churn stomachs, as well as the bloodiest and most extreme first films of the director. He even took the title and some of its themes from one of his own 1970s movies of the same name. The first Crimes of the Future It was about a dermatologist on the run after murdering “the entire population of sexually mature women” with cosmetics that had lethal side effects.

“You fill me with a desire to cut my face” says Léa Seydoux to Viggo Mortensen in one of the clips included in the trailer for the new movie. Fans of David Cronenberg’s first hour are the first to enjoy that the film is filled with imagery of menacing-looking medical instruments, impaled bodies, and bloody, wounded flesh.

Mortensen plays an avant-garde performance artist who appears to be trafficking in stolen organs. He has embraced “Accelerated Evolution Syndrome” which allows him to grow new and unexpected organs in his body. Seydoux appears as her partner and Kristen Stewart she is an investigator who follows his movements.

Horror genre fan sites are theorizing that the film will unleash a wave of chaos and controversy. “The last twenty minutes are really challenging. Early room exits, blackouts, and full-blown panic attacks (I had one myself!) are to be expected,” an anonymous programmer described on the website. World of Reel, after leaving completely shocked of a first projection.

It could be a considerable achievement for Cronenberg, who will be 80 years old in 2023, that provokes as much fury with his new film as with incendiary works like rabid Y Crash. These days, when he attends festivals, it’s usually for lifetime achievement awards rather than threats of banning. Either way, this kind of body terror seems more relevant today than ever. In an era of pandemic, hacks, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, videos deepfake and extreme plastic surgery, the bizarre transformations he used to show in sci-fi movies have become increasingly commonplace. In his 1999 film existZlong before Oculus headsets and the rise of virtual reality video games, Cronenberg postulated the idea that video games could be directly connected to the nervous system of the players.

Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux in Crimes of the Future.

The recent documentary short film Terror Contagion, from Laura Poitras, tells a contemporary story that could very well come from a Cronenberg film. She investigates how Spyware Pegasus created by the Israeli group NSO Groups Technologies is being used by repressive governments to harass and intimidate to his critics. Once he gets into their cell phones, his innermost secrets are revealed, just as all of those Cronenberg characters often find themselves when their bodies are infected by viruses or his DNA is manipulated.

“What’s really disturbing about this kind of digital violence is the link between digital violence and physical violence in the real world”Poitras recently noted about Pegasus spyware. His words are chilling. He wasn’t talking about some futuristic science fiction movie, but about human rights activists targeted by hostile governmentssuffering intimidation and sometimes, as in the case of the journalist jamal khashoggiactually killed.

There is a feeling, then, that the real world is catching up with ideas that David Cronenberg was already exploring a few decades ago. The director, however, has long demonstrated a knack for metamorphosis and reinvention which matches that of his own fictional characters. That’s why there’s so much anticipation and excitement built around his new film, and the filmmaker’s fitting return to the ever-fertile field of true body horror. As he himself recently joked, he still has “some unfinished business with the future.”

* crimes of the future It will be seen in competition at the 75th Cannes International Film Festival, to be held May 17-28.

* From The Independent From great britain. Special for Page 12.

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