“The King of Venereal Horror” Shines Light on Confronting Consequences with His New Film
A director that comes to mind when considering the horror genre in the film industry is David Cronenberg, a Canadian screenwriter, film director, and actor (1). With his authentic style that started attracting attention in the 70s, he created sci-fi horror thrillers such as "Shivers" (1975), "The Brood" (1979), "Scanners" (1981), "The Dead Zone" (1983), and a remake of the short story by George Langrlaan, "The Fly" (1986).
While some would call these films gruesome, when one learns how to appreciate the visuals, the intelligence and contemporary style of Cronenberg comes to the surface. Cronenberg is perhaps infamous for films that are considered gruesome due to the way he explores the human body through transformations, infections and such, making his films fall under the category of body horror. In turn, he has been named ‘the King of Venereal Horror’ and ‘the Baron of Blood’ (2).
Validating the attributed titles once more, Cronenberg has directed a new film, “The Crimes of the Future,” a feature based on exploring inside the human body in a dystopian atmosphere. The title, although lighting dim candles in the mind, comes alive once the concept is really grasped and the experience is outlived. The ‘crimes’ at hand are really Cronenberg’s unveiling of humankind’s faults.
In the film, bodies undergo transformations hidden from the eye, springing up organs never seen before. Authorities realize that this is an accelerated development, perhaps leading to evolution, and build adequate technology to help relieve the pain, but prevent submission to the body’s natural metamorphosis. Some experts find positivity in the metamorphosis of organs by depicting the change during live performances, showcasing the newest creations of the human body in live autopsies, dance performances, and more.
The two protagonists, Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux) are considered some of the best considered performers. Their performance takes place with Saul on an autopsy bed as he is remotely controlled by Caprice. Caprice elegantly opens his body up, quite viciously carves his body to take out the new organs, and seals the body with a heat seal. The entire procedure goes on without a drop of anaesthesia or the use of a sanitizer. This reveals another concept of the film, where the feeling of pain is all but lost and leaves humanity longing for it.
While the authorities strive to preserve the past and the performers savor the present, others seek ways to submit to the body’s needs and illuminate the future of humankind.
This future, which is a result of these biological crimes, is foreshadowed during a scene drowned out by a narration of Greek mythology: a mother’s murder of her son after he devours a synthetic trash can. He is the product of evolution forced by humankind’s mistreatment of the world.
As exaggeratedly as the film puts forward the issue, micro plastics are already swimming around in human blood (3). Who knows how bad the situation will become? With this issue in mind, American film critic Dana Stevens wrote, "Our modern anxiety over everyday lives that are ever more suffused by technology [...] has rarely been expressed with such simplicity and intuitive rightness," (4).
Although the movie may not be fit for all, due to its brave visuals and progression of the plot, it is an interesting, and somewhat concerning, experience to live through.
“I think of horror films as art, as films of confrontation. Films that make you confront aspects of your own life that are difficult to face. Just because you're making a horror film doesn't mean you can't make an artful film.”
- David Cronenberg
1 - David Cronenberg. Rotten Tomatoes. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/david_cronenberg
2 - IMDb.com. (n.d.). David Cronenberg. IMDb. Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000343/
3 - Guardian News and Media. (2022, March 24). Microplastics found in human blood for first time. The Guardian. Retrieved July 28, 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/24/microplastics-found-in-human-blood-for-first-time?fbclid=IwAR3bk4yjnm-PnCvnUq1RWZRSeTQZOh5Tbm-sbq5snjNx4HI2t9_x_6uX1yw
4 - Lawson, R. (2022, May 23). David Cronenberg gets back to basics in crimes of the future. Vanity Fair. Retrieved July 30, 2022, from https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/05/crimes-of-the-future-david-cronenberg-review