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eXistenZ (1999)

R  |   |  Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller  |  23 April 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 73,912 users   Metascore: 68/100
Reviews: 521 user | 193 critic | 29 from Metacritic.com

A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.


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3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kiri Vinokur
Hugo Carlaw
Seminar Leader
Robert A. Silverman ...
D'Arcy Nader
Oscar Hsu ...
Noel Dichter
Male Assistant
Kirsten Johnson ...
Female Assistant
James Kirchner ...
Balázs Koós ...
Male Volunteer


Allegra Geller, the leading game designer in the world, is testing her new virtual reality game, eXistenZ with a focus group. As they begin, she is attacked by a fanatic assassin employing a bizarre organic gun. She flees with a young marketing trainee, Ted Pikul, who is suddenly assigned as her bodyguard. Unfortunately, her pod, an organic gaming device that contains the only copy of the eXistenZ game program, is damaged. To inspect it, she talks Ted into accepting a gameport in his own body so he can play the game with her. The events leading up to this, and the resulting game lead the pair on a strange adventure where reality and their actions are impossible to determine from either their own or the game's perspective. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Into your body, under your skin, beyond your senses See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sci-fi violence and gore, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

23 April 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

eXistenZ: Mundo virtual  »

Box Office


CAD 31,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$810,262 (USA) (23 April 1999)


$2,840,417 (USA) (18 June 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (workprint)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the scene where Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law hole up in a motel room after the failed assassination attempt, the bag their fast food comes in has "Perky Pat" written on it. This is a reference to the novel "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" by alternate reality sci-fi master Philip K. Dick. As many have noted online, eXistenZ takes many of its themes about nested reality and alienation directly from this book by Dick. In "Three Stigmata," however, the framework of the false realities is not a video game, but drugs called Can-D and Chew-Z. See more »


When Pikul is extracting the tooth from Allegra's shoulder, the sleeve of her top is rolled down. In the next shot after it comes out, her shoulder is covered again, but Pikul's hand resting on it hasn't moved. (There are deliberate costume discontinuities in this movie, when the characters shift in and out of eXistenZ, but this isn't one of them.) See more »


[first lines]
Seminar Leader: eXistenZ. Written like this. One word. Small 'E', capital 'X', capital 'Z'. 'eXistenZ'. It's new, it's from Antenna Research, and it's here... right now.
See more »


References Crash (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

Truly unique
9 April 2002 | by (SF, CA) – See all my reviews

Everybody seems to compare this to The Matrix and The 13th Floor, and when I first saw it I would have agreed -- I was expecting The Matrix and was a little disappointed. But upon repeated viewings my respect for this movie has grown immensely.

The thing to keep in mind is that The Matrix is a great action movie with some philosophical mumbo-jumbo thrown in. The 13th Floor is a passable action movie with some slightly more interesting philosophical mumbo-jumbo thrown in. Existenz is not an action movie at all, and is not (as many seem to believe) about "reality" or any such "deep" concept. It's about the human tendency to intentionally replace reality with an artificial (both in its origin and in its behavior) world of make-believe.

The most chilling moment in the movie is when Allegra Geller repeats her "scripted" line. It's at that point you realize that the people in the game have voluntarily surrendered their free will in order to participate in a story. This is made even more frightening at the end when D'Arcy Nader (or rather his player) comments on the possibility of spending one's life in the game. I sympathize completely with the "realist" philosophy, that providing interesting worlds in which people simply locate the correct predefined path to the end goal is ultimately a recipe for a soulless existence. Living "in the game" is not living at all, but is a tempting way to spend one's time on earth. As Allegra comments about the real world, "there's nothing going on here." Might as well jack into someone else's imagination, and pretend to be doing something interesting. (Although I have to ask whether Cronenberg considers this a self-indictment, considering that he himself offers up worlds to be experienced in 90 minute snippets.)

Upon leaving the theater after first watching this movie, I thought it was one of those movies that was watchable only to see how it ended. But having seen it a couple more times (thank you SciFi Channel) I've realized how much deeper it goes. Seriously, if you've only seen it once, it deserves another viewing.

156 of 183 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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