After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally murders his wife and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa.
After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.
Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager's day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.
The residents of a suburban high-rise apartment building are being infected by a strain of parasites that turn them into mindless, sex-crazed fiends out to infect others by the slightest sexual contact.
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
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 »
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.
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A well-crafted film deflated by the Matrix-sodden expectations of an effects-obsessed audience.
I feel compelled to speak up for this film against the spoilt ravings of the it-said-it-was-like-the-Matrix-but-I-didn't-see-any-cool-computer-graphics-a nywhere crowd that have dominated these pages.
There seem to be two schools of thought on the use of special effects in movies. The prevalent theory - depressingly common among film goers and film-makers alike - seems to be that a good effect should stand out of a film and make the audience coo like a pigeon. If you subscribe to that theory, fine, watch the Matrix and be happy. If you think that a special effect is a means to an end, a way to portray a fictional vista as a believable realism, then watch eXistenZ and marvel at how a grotesque and visceral world can be made so engrossingly real and intriguing. This film has its fair share of effects, but they are so well grafted into the ethos the film evokes that you just won't notice them on first viewing. And in contrast with the current trend towards computer-generated effects, Cronenburg knows the value of his tactile world; the physical creativity involved in the gristle-gun building scene is a fantastic example.
Okay, so virtual reality has been used many times as a concept - and by films that actually came BEFORE the Matrix too - but the totality with which this film portrays its own organic brand of VR is truly engrossing. Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh are utterly watch-able and the chemistry between them is the perfect vehicle to lead an audience through the admittedly gruesome situations the film describes.
There is an element of old-fashioned escapist fantasy in this film that manages to be strangely endearing despite the gore and I suggest that this is where the film triumphs - a triumph that can be attributed to clever writing, intelligent acting and characterisation, a compelling story, charismatic leads, a vivid and disciplined imagination and the discerning use of effects and visual style.
If the Matrix is an `oooh, aaah' sort of film, then this is more an `oooh, eeugh' movie - but don't allow the glare of the Matrix to dull your senses to the darker appeal of eXistenZ.
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