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‘Crimes of the Future’ Movie Review

by Will Lasley 2 months ago in movie
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Evolutionary War

After eight years of hiatus, legendary filmmaker David Cronenberg returns to the director’s chair with Crimes of the Future. In an unspecified later day, almost every human being on Earth has evolved to no longer feel pain. Because of this, people have become obsessed with mutilating their own bodies for the intense sensation, because, as one character puts it, “surgery is the new sex.” One of the last remaining people to still experience pain is Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen), who lives in almost perpetual agony. His body is constantly growing superfluous organs, and he and his partner, Caprice (Léa Seydoux), have taken the modern performance art scene by storm by turning the removal of these organs into an exhibition. When Lang (Scott Speedman), a man whose son was recently murdered, asks to have him publicly dissected during their act, Saul and Caprice are both intrigued and suspicious.

While Cronenberg initially made a name for himself as a pioneer of body horror with movies like Rabid, Naked Lunch and his reimagining of The Fly, he did eventually get into more mainstream crime thrillers like Eastern Promises and A History of Violence. Crimes of the Future was advertised as his return to his roots, and it most certainly is. The blend of grisly visuals and erotic tranquility harkens back to his earlier pictures, especially Videodrome, which happens to be my favorite of his works. Like in that film, the brutality is juxtaposed with sex, and the two become inseparable in the context of the movie. There is one moment in particular that is especially grotesque, despite the most graphic details being offscreen. This is also where Cronenberg’s twisted sense of humor comes out. I won’t spoil it. I’ll simply say that it involves a zipper.

Cronenberg has worked with Viggo Mortensen three times prior, and the two of them clearly have a great understanding of each other’s craft. Viggo is definitely in his element here. He feels like a very natural part of this absurd world, which is just further proof that he and Cronenberg pair perfectly with each other. Léa Seydoux’s performance is very understated, as are most in the film. But hers is probably the subtlest. I don’t say this negatively, because her character doesn’t lend itself to any sort of operatic behavior or mannerisms, but I can understand if some find her to be boring. Kristen Stewart doesn’t get as much screen time as I had hoped, but she makes great use of the scenes she has. She’s perfectly quirky and likable as can be. Scott Speedman, whom most of us know from The Strangers, Underworld, and/or the show “Felicity”, has arguably the heaviest role here. His character is going through one of the most painful experiences possible (losing a child), and Speedman is able to convey that turmoil in a way that affects the audience emotionally, but still feels natural and raw.

The true star of Crimes of the Future is the bizarre world in which it takes place. Production designer Carol Spier is a master, and she’s worked with Cronenberg on most of his other movies. The technology is very strange in the best way. Many of the hi-tech devices and furniture are very reminiscent of insects or crustaceans. If any of you are Elder Scrolls fans, a lot of it reminds me of Morrowind, actually. The dissection pod that Saul and Caprice use in their performances looks like a giant horseshoe crab. It’s just so visually interesting, and it’s distinctive in a way that instantly hooks the viewer. The only noticeable issue with the film is that it could be very easy to write it off as dull. The pacing is very gentle, almost dreamlike at times. I’d be lying if I said my attention didn’t wander a tad every now and then, but this will vary, depending on the audience member.

Crimes of the Future harkens back to David Cronenberg’s glory days, blending body horror with eroticism in one uniquely unsettling story. The cast doesn’t miss a beat in this bizarro future, and the production design is absolutely outstanding. Cronenberg fans are in for a f*cked up treat.

SCORE: 4.5/5

Trigger warning: filicide


About the author

Will Lasley

I’m an actor and director of stage and screen (mostly nonprofessionally so far). But I also dabble in standup, and on this site, horror movie criticism. I’m just a guy who loves horror movies, and I like to share that love with the world.

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