This will come as a surprise to no one but David Cronenberg’s Crimes of The Future is weeeeeeeird. It’s quintessentially Cronenberg complete with biological machinery, nouveau religious epiphanies that encourage people to “transcend their flesh”, and sex acts that will make even the adventurous blush. It’s as horny as it is horrific and as transgressive as it is transcendent. That’s a whole bunch of words, but the main takeaway is this: Crimes of The Future is kinda fucked up. And no one does fucked up like my main man Davey C.

In the world of this story, humans have evolved to a point where infections and pain are (mostly) a thing of the past. There’s a whole wrinkle in Crimes of The Future where pain is something only experienced by a lucky few, and only ever while sleeping. My best guess is that it’s about memory and the pangs of loss but your guess is as good as mine right now. Surely a second viewing will unlock that mystery for me, but for the time being, I’m just gonna have to shrug and admit that it went over my head. Regardless, human beings are on the cusp of their next evolutionary step, and there are a lot of conflicting opinions about whether we should embrace or reject this brave new world.

 

“…as though eXistenZ, Videodrome, and Naked Lunch all stepped into The Fly‘s telepod together…”

 

In the future, people have begun to grow new organs. Their purpose and origin remain unknown, and the government has taken extra steps to track these mysterious mutations. Saul Tenser, played by Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence), is a performance artist who isn’t happy with what is happening to the human body. Together with his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux), the two perform live surgeries, extracting Saul’s organs as a protest against his own body. Through his art he finds himself mixed up with organ registrars, an officer of the “new vice squad”, and an underground society, led by Scott Speedman’s Lang Doughtery, that wants to use Saul as a platform to usher in a new age of human evolution.


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Cronenbergian to a fault, Crimes of The Future is melodramatic, macabre, and deliciously messed up. Some highlights include a man who sews his mouth and eyes shut after grafting dozens of ears across his entire body…an autopsy performed on a small child…an “inner beauty pageant” where contestants’ organs are placed into competition…and oral sex with an open wound. “Surgery is the new sex,” as Kristen Stewart’s character declares, and in this grimey depiction of the near future people cut each other’s skin rather than tearing their clothes off. If you thought the car crash fetishes of Crash (1996) were a step too far, Crimes of The Future is going to burn your eyeballs out of your skull.

 

Crimes of the Future 2022 - 2

Courtesy of NEON

 

In a strange way, Crimes of The Future is the intersection between The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) and Martyrs (2008)Saul is a saintly figure, believed to be the disciple of a new age. He is defiant of “the new flesh” but cannot escape his fate. He’s also cut open constantly and used as a tool by a quasi-cult but hey, life is what happens while you’re making other plans amiright? Mortensen’s performance is an unpleasant one. He’s stellar as the sickly Saul, in a constant battle with his own biology, but he’s a lot to take in. Every breath, every swallow, is labored and irksome, and somehow in a movie about sexualized surgery and organ-play, hearing this man struggle to perform basic bodily functions is the most upsetting part. Leave it up to Cronenberg to make the most radical acts sexy, and the most mundane uncomfortable!

Did I fully understand everything this bizarre tale was trying to say? Absolutely not, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I didn’t eat up every second of this grotesque, operatic sci-fi mind-bender. David Cronenberg has become the household name for body horror and Crimes of The Future marks a return to his earlier work that horror fans have eagerly awaited. It’s as though eXistenZ, Videodrome, and Naked Lunch all stepped into The Fly‘s telepod together to create a revolutionarily revolting chimera of gross-out gags and freaky philosophy. No one makes movies like Cronenberg, and Crime of The Future may just be the most Cronbergien Cronenberg to ever Cronenberg.

 

“…melodramatic, macabre, and deliciously messed up…”

 

David Cronenberg’s Crimes of The Future hits theatres June 3rd! We’ll be sharing our full thoughts on the film in a special Drive-Home From The Drive-In Review episode of the Nightmare on Film Street podcast next week, but in the meantime, be sure to let us know what you thought of Cronenberg’s newest body horror over on TwitterRedditFacebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.

 

Crimes of the future poster 2022

Courtesy of NEON