GORE IN THE STORE
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CRIMES OF THE FUTURE ***
Directed by David Cronenberg.
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart.
Horror, Canada, 107 minutes, certificate 18.
Released in cinemas in the UK September 9th.
“Surgery is the new sex.” “We live in a post-pain world.” “We can download your Orchid Bed co-ordinates to the breakfaster, tweak the eatware parameters.” A lot of philosophical and downright bizarre statements are made in David Cronenberg’s eagerly awaited return to body horror. CRIMES OF THE FUTURE serves as a statement itself on Cronenberg’s donation to the body horror genre, a genre he pretty much made his own with a remarkable run of films through the 1970’s and 80’s. Sharing its title with his early 70’s short, the writer-director revisits the themes and imagery with this future set tale of a deserted world without frontiers, be they international, political or in the body itself.
Frequent collaborator Mortensen portrays Saul Tenser, a pain withered husk of a man whose body has taken to growing strange new organs. Tenser’s partner in artistic crime Caprice performs surgery on him in public settings. Thanks to widespread mutations in humanity pain receptors have given way to a strange new internal landscape that is now explored in a very public fashion. These public exhibitions of biomechanical surgery are coming under scrutiny of the newly formed National Organ Registry, a small yet officious organisation determined to keep track of the biological revolution. One of the Registry’s workers, the nervy Timlin, a jittery Kristen Stewart, finds herself being seduced by Tenser and Caprice’s surgical performances whilst a grieving father hovers in the shadows eager to present Tenser and Caprice with an opportunity that could provide an evolutionary step forward not only for their exhibition but for humanity itself.
Cronenberg’s style itself has evolved over the years into its own strange beast. The detached and clinical performances of the characters spouting bizarre and dense dialogue sits alongside the grotesque imagery of bodies being explored inside and out by seemingly alive instrumentation and machinery that seems to be an unholy offspring of the otherworldly surgical tools of the Mantle twins from DEAD RINGERS and the gloopy games systems of eXistenZ. Secret societies are pitted against undercover organisations within undercover organisations in a plot that involves surreal explorations of how society mutates and evolves from the cellular level outwards and upwards.
While this all sounds like vintage Cronenberg, where story and plot ploughed the way for all sorts of surreal imagery, what we get here is the more intellectually driven and philosophically minded auteur. The detachment spreads to the visual surroundings; all dilapidated, dusty offices located within deserted town streets where hulks of large ships lie rusting away into the shore. The other aspects of the biomechanical instrumentation that Tenser and Caprice use for their exploratory performances could rank pretty high up there on Cronenberg’s gore score but there is a marked lack in quality in the CGI on display here that also keeps the viewer at a distance in an unintentional way.
While flawed it is always interesting. At first glance it may appear that Cronenberg is saying nothing new here but perhaps in time this could prove to be as prophetic in the way that the underrated at the time eXistenZ was. Where that film humorously predicted the way that media is now beginning to be consumed and deified, CRIMES OF THE FUTURE could prove to be ahead of the curve when it comes to the human body. Thanks to studies proving the alarming presence of microplastics detected in the human body earlier this year the next step in human evolution may look at this late work of a visionary figure with far more approving eyes.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans