Crimes of the Future (2023)
I’m more drawn to the philosophical body horror with which David Cronenberg started his career: Shivers, Rabid, The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome. That’s as distinctive and interesting run of films as anyone’s ever made. The extremes of the psyche and technology are again to the fore in Crimes of the Future, which is a clear call at the end of his career back to the beginning.
Saul has “accelerated evolution syndrome”, which means his body is constantly creating new organs without an obvious purpose, and while he is often uncomfortable, he cannot feel pain. His artistic partner Caprice performs surgery to remove the organs in front of live audiences as performance art. This attracts the attention of two overly-into-it civil servants at a new National Organ Registry, as well as the government police, a pair of tech mechanics, and the father of a murdered child.
It’s a chaotic film, full of graphic mutilation, big ideas and knowing performances that lead to some laugh-out-loud moments. The ridiculousness of humans’ desire to replace the wonders of the natural body with technological equivalents is clear, and as one character says, surgery is the new sex. It feels like this film is a raised eyebrow from Cronenberg at his whole career. Perhaps he’s making sure we got the joke.