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Review: Crimes of the Future – “A must-see for Cronenberg fans”

Written and directed by David Cronenberg (The Fly, Crash), Crimes of the Future stars Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings, Captain Fantastic), Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour, Spectre) and Kristen Stewart (Twilight, Spencer).

“I think this bed needs new software” moans a badly rested Saul Tenser (Mortensen) at the beginning of David Cronenberg’s latest body horror, Crimes of the Future. It’s a sentiment many of us of a certain age are all too familiar with, but in Saul’s reality it is true – the future of Crimes of the Future features furniture with a kind of mutated organic tech that looks monstrously alive and is programmed to assist us in everything from helping us sleep – that bed that needs the new version downloading – to chairs that literally rub our tummies to aid digestion.

The reason we humans need help is that our organs have begun to change and evolve over time – they literally don’t make us like they used to. The other side effect of this is that we’ve all but grown out of our response to pain, making mutual surgery the new sex and extreme body modification something you could get done at Claire’s Accessories.

This is all, of course, the perfect playground for the master of body horror and there is no holding back Cronenberg’s deliciously depraved imagination in cold, gruesome, playful scenes in which Saul’s partner Caprice (Seydoux) performs surgery on him as part of their performance art and removes the new organs he is able to grow for study at the local branch of the National Organ Registry.

It is here we meet Timlin (Stewart), a brand-new biology bureaucrat and Saul and Caprice fan-girl. Simping hard for Saul she is determined to have him perform surgery on her, perform surgery on him, or even just have sex the old-fashioned way – if needs must.

Saul must juggle Timlin’s advances, keep his performance art audience and partner happy, play both sides of an underground body mod movement and New Vice Unit off against each other aaand figure out what on earth all these new organs he’s growing are for.

It’s a lot, but Cronenberg’s direction is assured and his writing is confident that you will pick up what this new world is all about and how all the parts and players fit together as you go along. You are dropped straight into this weird and wonderful new land and trusted to make your own way through. It’s exhilarating and never feels like hard work. There is also a lot of fun to be had for fans with nods to the likes of Crash, Videodrome, Existenz and Dead Ringers and an arch humour in lines of Saul’s that seem to also be Cronenberg speaking directly to the audience, such as “Sexier means easier funding”.

The odd element is a bit on the nose – like the man covered in ears – and when not showing us something extreme and amazing, Cronenberg’s stately static camerawork can make long dialogue scenes feel ponderous. But, Crimes of the Future pulses with so much to say about humanity and what we may have irreversibly done to the planet and ourselves and, although it doesn’t quite stick the landing, getting to see David Cronenberg do his thing, unrestrained, with decent money and effects, and a great cast, on a big screen is an opportunity not to be missed.

Skip to the end: A must-see for Cronenberg fans, Crimes of the Future is horny body horror from the master that recalls his greatest hits while also opening up revoltingly beautiful new ground.

Crimes of the Future is released in the UK on the 9th of September.

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