Crimes of the Future Review

PLOT: Saul Tenser has the uncanny ability to mutate and transform his inside organs. This unique talent has him and his partner Caprice using this gift as a performance art piece. However, when a strange man making an even stranger request arrives, Saul and Caprice’s act takes a dark turn.

REVIEW: What will your reaction to David Cronenberg’s latest be with his return to “body horror” – the subgenre that graphically explores the destructing of the human form? It may depend on whether you’ve seen anything from him before A History of Violence or even his acclaimed remake of The Fly. If that’s all you’ve experienced, you may find his newest feature quite disturbed. Crimes of the Future is grotesque, shocking, and fascinating, and it has an eerily unsettling and complex concept. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Don McKellar, and Scott Speedman, Crimes echoes the famed director’s earlier work such as Rabid, The Brood, or Videodrome. And even his perversely stunning adaptation of Naked Lunch. If that’s where you fall as a fan, you’re more than ready for the experience.

Viggo Mortensen is Saul Tenser, a performance artist who, along with his partner Caprice (Seydoux), has created an underground art sensation. As humans have evolved, the feeling of pain is missing for most of us. Yet Saul feels it. He also has a unique trait where he continues to grow several seemingly unnecessary organs in his body. Yet, in this world, they’ve managed to turn the surgery of removing the objects into a live performance. Without people having the ability to feel pain, audiences have discovered an obsession with what is on the inside. Perhaps even more than what is outside. When a secretive man named Lang Daughtery (Scott Speedman) approaches the couple, he suggests that they add a dark twist to their stage show. Frankly, it would be a crime of the future to reveal much more than that.

I’ve been hoping to see Mr. Cronenberg return to the weird for a long time. And yes, Crimes of the Future certainly fits that description beautifully. This stunning new vision revels in the fleshy and uncomfortable – with a stunning score by Howard Shore. Written and directed by the filmmaker, Crimes dives deep into our darkest desires, similarly to his previous films like Crash and Existenz, and even Shivers. Frankly, I’m hesitant to go into many details surrounding the film. If you are leaping into Cronenberg territory, it’s best to go in with little previous knowledge of what might transpire. And yes, there are moments that you will have to see to believe.

Cronenberg is a master at presenting body horror in all its gruesome glory, including an exploration of sexuality. The staged performances the couple put can be grotesque, but they are slightly believable. After all, we are a society happy to seek out the horrific remnants of a car accident on the side of the road to get a glimpse. As well, there is a sensual aspect to the morbid images. And yes, that includes the sequences of surgery themselves. Now I haven’t even written about the unusual medical chairs that are part of the process. Turning an autopsy table into what appears to be a living organism is one hell of a freakish sight.

The casting here works. Viggo has been a fairly regular working partner with the filmmaker starting back with A History of Violence, and it’s easy to see why. Mortensen is excellent as a performer with odd bodily functions. Lea Seydoux is also terrific as his partner. She brings a radiance to the dark imagery that surrounds her. Both give solid performances. And if you are looking for something quirky, both Kristen Stewart and Don McKellar are impressively odd as two secret government workers who become entranced by Saul and Caprice. And then there is Scott Speedman. The actor gives a complex yet sometimes cold performance. It works shockingly well in this oddity.

Crimes may be a challenging film if you aren’t familiar with the director’s more twisted tales. Many moments are likely to disturb some of the more sensitive viewers. And if I had a minor complaint, it would be that one element involving Speedman’s character isn’t quite as mysterious as it could’ve been. Yet Cronenberg’s return to the morbid and bizarre is incredibly satisfying for this viewer. It’s a stylish, unsettling tale. It is one that has stayed with me days after viewing. If you want light entertainment, this is not for you. However, if you are salivating over the promise of David Cronenberg returning to the psycho-sexual horrific visions of the old, then this is for you.


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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.