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Crimes of the Future

Crimes of the Future

Crimes of the Future

Synopsis:
Humans adapt to a synthetic environment, with new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice, Saul Tenser, celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances.

David Cronenberg makes his return to body horror in . Sometime in the future, humanity has evolved to the point where they can no longer feel pain, which has resulted in body mutilations becoming a perverse form of performance art. Saul Tenser () is one such performance artist, who regularly performs with his ex-surgeon partner Caprice () to publicly remove new organs that have been growing inside his body, which have to be registered at the National Organ Registry run by Wippet () and his timid partner Timlin (). Saul is approached by Lang Daughtery (), who wants Saul to perform a public autopsy on his recently murdered son, in order to expose the surprises within.

Following an eight-year hiatus following his disappointing 2014 film Maps to the Stars, David Cronenberg returns to write and direct his first full-on body horror film since 1999's eXistenZ. Crimes of the Future sports the same title as Cronenberg's early-career film from 1970, despite having no relation to the earlier film. Cronenberg reteams with frequent collaborator Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method), who plays an aging performance artist named Saul Tenser, who is afflicted with the growth of new organs, which affects his sleep and eating, resulting in him removing the organs in public performances. However, Saul is approached by a man named Lang Daughtery, who wants Saul's next performance to help expose the next stage of human evolution.

It was just a few years ago when it seemed like David Cronenberg's career as a filmmaker had come to an end, with the 79-year-old body horror pioneer having moved on to taking acting roles and releasing his debut novel “Consumed.” It also seemed like David Cronenberg officially passed the body horror baton to his son Brandon, who received acclaim for 2020's Possessor. However, it would also have been a real shame if David Cronenberg's final film ended up being Maps of the Stars, so it's great that Cronenberg got a chance to not only make a new film but return to the body horror genre that he became known for.

Going into Crimes of the Future, there has been quite a bit of hyperbole that this is an incredibly disturbing film that would test the resolve of moviegoers. While I will indeed not recommend people eat anything before seeing the film, I do have to contend that the content of Crimes of the Future is not that much worse than eXistenZ, the film it's closest to plotwise, or Cronenberg's much more graphic early films, such as 1979's The Brood, which infamously has a moment of Samantha Eggar licking a fetus.

Of Crimes of the Future‘s three core cast members, it is actually Kristen Stewart who stands out in her relatively small role as organ resister Timlin, who always speaks in short nervous spurts, and has developed a fascination with Saul Tenser's performance art. Sadly, Tenser ends up being the least interesting of the Cronenberg roles played by Viggo Mortensen, with the character almost always seen draped in a black robe and who is overshadowed by both Stewart and Léa Seydoux's Caprice, the latter arguably being the true artist of the duo's performances. Then there is Scott Speedman as Lang Daughtery, whose presence in the film is there primarily to move the plot forward, particularly towards a climactic moment that will make or break most viewers.

Known for shooting most of his films within Canada, either in and around Montreal or Toronto, Crimes of the Future is notable for the fact that it was shot in Athens, Greece, with the Greek production company Argonauts being involved with the production and financing of the film. Since the bulk of Crimes of the Future takes place in interior sets, the Greek location is almost inconsequential, there are still in the film where it's obvious, particularly the beachside opening scene, which happens to include the first of many disturbing moments in the film.

While this is a film that is definitely not for the squeamish, Crimes of the Future is ultimately a major return to form for David Cronenberg, who shows why he is the undisputed master of body horror.

Trailer for Crimes of the Future

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This post was proofread by Grammarly 

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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