Movie Recommendation: Crimes of the Future
Dir. David Cronenberg, 2022
I don't watch movies with the mindset of providing a critical review or seeking movies to write about. Rather these recommendation posts reflect moments I finished watching a movie and felt driven to tell the world about it!
I only recommend movies I'm excited about and eager for you to see.
I didn’t get into cinema as an art form until the early 2000s, and by that point Cronenberg had stopped producing body horror flicks and moved on to philosophical psychodramas. The movies he’s made over the past twenty years have been equally good but viscerally muted, leaving me a craving for some of his ewwy-gooey old stuff.
So when I heard that he was releasing a new body horror movie, I leapt at the chance to see it as soon as it released. And surprisingly, it was even better than I expected!
There’s something really nice about watching a master craftsman at the top of his form, and Crimes of the Future bleeds his experience and maturity. It’s actually so far deep into his territory I couldn’t help wondering what a newcomer who never saw his work before would think, being faced with the fleshy bony set design and the unblinking philosophical musings being delivered by actors between retching, gasping breaths and moans while they perform surgeries on each other.
The story follows Saul Tenser, whose body keeps growing extraneous organs he has to regularly remove from his body. He long ago paired up with his trauma ward surgeon Caprice and the two began performing open body surgery publicly as a form of performance art. But he’s approached by a subversive named Lang Botrice, who challenges Saul on whether the organs Saul’s removing might not be the path to a new evolutionary level of human, while on the other hand Saul is surveilled and instigated with various bureaucrats and government spooks who are very concerned with suppressing said evolutionary track.
This is all set in Cronenberg-land, a dirty and vacuous extensive futurist city of broken buildings and very whole, meaty, bone-and-flesh furniture and care facilities for people suffering various side effects from a world where pain and infections have been forgotten.
There’s a quote Moustapha Akkad, producer of the Halloween series, said in an interview that always stuck with me: “Horror is a sense of humor.” And this movie has a very deadpan sense of humor. That’s one of the things I admire about Cronenberg’s work, he always has these characters look at viscerally disturbing things and decide they’re kinda into it, might as well reach in, play around a bit, see how it feels, maybe dig a little deeper…
However, it may be inaccurate to call this body horror. It’s more like an industrial thriller with gratuitous graphic imagery and earnest, unblinking philosophical debates.
The first Cronenberg movie I got to see in theatres was A History of Violence. At the time a blogger I followed was really excited by it and wrote about how Cronenberg’s body horror was just an excuse to look into deeper themes and it was great to see him break out into a new range of character driven psychodrama. It’s great to send a similar post 17 years later and have Cronenberg merge his learnings and explorations into his previous visual style.
Cronenberg fans should love it — but more importantly, it’s a great entryway to his personal brand of insanity for newcomers.
Just a quick warning for the uninitiated that Cronenberg did something unusual and this new movie has the same title as his 1970 feature Crimes of the Future, which is otherwise unrelated. Worth mentioning just in case there’s any confusion. It is not a remake as far as I am aware, including the fact that the stories are different. However I haven’t seen that 1970 feature so who knows, it might turn out to be the next movie recommendation.
Have you seen anything wonderful this week? Tell me about it in the comments!