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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.


3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hugo Carlaw
D'Arcy Nader
Oscar Hsu ...
Noel Dichter
Male Assistant
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


Play Or Be Played. 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  »


Box Office


CAD 31,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£362,864 (United Kingdom), 2 May 1999, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$810,262, 25 April 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,840,417, 20 June 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (workprint)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the scene where eXistenZ is introduced, the late-coming assassin, Noel Dichter (Kris Lemche), has his ID card scanned. On the bottom of the card, a line of text is scanned, which is written in the ancient Babylonian language. 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 Offline - Das Leben ist kein Bonuslevel (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

A Shaggy Dog Story...but a good one
19 November 2006 | by See all my reviews

"We're both stumbling around together in this unformed world, whose rules and objectives are largely unknown, seemingly indecipherable or even possibly nonexistent, always on the verge of being killed by forces that we don't understand." So says Ted Pikul in the film. Which for some people sums up life and 'eXistenZ' probably is a film about existence. What is real and what is unreal and how you tell the difference. Or not. The last line of the film is superbly ambiguous.

The film seems like a shaggy dog story (indeed it has a real shaggy dog in it) but it takes you along on an interesting ride, full of provocative Cronenberg touches that will make you look at amphibians, game pods, fish, spines and bones in a new light. Some bits are quite icky. It takes place in a rural setting where the gas station is called 'GAS STATION' and a Chinese restaurant is called 'CHINESE RESTAURANT.'The film has an engrossing texture that is leagues away from your usual big budget science fiction movie.You can read many things into the film and it repays watching more than once.

The main actors are Jude Law who is OK and Jennifer Jason Leigh who is great. Some roles don't suit this very talented actor but when she has a good role like this she is unmatchable. Her unconventional beauty and fascinating voice suits the part of Allegra. (Looks great in a short black skirt too.) There are other familiar actors but they are not given much to do. It looks good, sounds good and a Howard Shore score complements the film very well. Cronenberg is possibly the Alfred Hitchcock of the sci-fi/horror genre. No matter what film he makes he is always worth watching.

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