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eXistenZ (1999)

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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
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


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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  »

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
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Did You Know?


Jennifer Jason Leigh had already finished shooting her role in Eyes Wide Shut (1999) when she took on this role. When her scenes in that film required re-shooting, the schedule required for it interfered with this one. Leigh chose to stay on this film and her role in Eyes Wide Shut was re-cast. See more »


The first time we see Ted Pikul at the trout farm, he labels an envelope with the letters LA. The L is clearly connected to the A. However in the next shot with the envelope on the conveyor belt the L and A are no longer connected. 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 »


Referenced in From Stereo to Video (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

"Death to the demon The Matrix!"
14 July 2001 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

'eXistenZ' sorts out the men from the boys. That is, your reaction to this marvellous movie will depend whether you are S.F. literate and familiar with Cronenberg's oeuvre, or a 'Matrix'-loving, Johnny-come-lately. Now I enjoy 'The Matrix' as a superior action movie, but no movie in recent years has been so overrated, and grossly exaggerated as intellectual fare! 'eXistenZ' and Alex Proyas' similarly overlooked 'Dark City' are everything 'The Matrix' claims to be - intelligent, thought provoking, CHALLENGING S.F.

This movie is almost a summary of all the themes and motifs that Cronenberg has been obsessed about for the last 25 years or so. Especially the Burroughsian "biological horror" and the Phildickian questioning of reality. While it echoes many of his previous movies, it especially evokes his masterpiece 'Videodrome'. It may not reach the hallucinogenic heights of that movie - very few have - but it certainly takes you to places most contemporary S.F. and horror movies don't even try to reach.

However this movie isn't just Cronenberg rehashing his "greatest hits". There are more than enough new and interesting touches, especially the Rushdie-like Fatwah theme, the odd sexual symbolism, and the witty touches such as the bone guns that fire teeth. Helping all this along is the interesting, carefully chosen cast. All are good, but I especially like Willem Dafoe's creepy garage mechanic, and it was also great to see Canadian cult star Don McKellar ('Highway 61', 'Twitch City',etc) as the enigmatic "Russian" Yevgeny.

'Videodrome' has taken many years to find its real audience, and maybe 'eXistenz' will too. But I believe eventually it will be recognised for what it is - a work of great imagination and flair.

156 of 237 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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