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.


David Cronenberg
4,496 ( 460)
3 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Allegra Geller
Jude Law ... Ted Pikul
Ian Holm ... Kiri Vinokur
Willem Dafoe ... Gas
Don McKellar ... Yevgeny Nourish
Callum Keith Rennie ... Hugo Carlaw
Christopher Eccleston ... Seminar Leader
Sarah Polley ... Merle
Robert A. Silverman ... D'Arcy Nader
Oscar Hsu ... Chinese Waiter
Kris Lemche ... Noel Dichter
Vik Sahay ... Male Assistant
Kirsten Johnson ... Female Assistant
James Kirchner James Kirchner ... Landry
Balázs Koós 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:

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Did You Know?


The lubricant Allegra (Jennifer Jason Leigh) uses for Pikul's (Jude Law's) port is called XE-60, which is only one letter in the alphabet up from WD-40. 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.
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Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Sci-Fi Weapons (2013) See more »

User Reviews

Cronenberg Levels Up
14 May 2017 | by Minus_The_BeerSee all my reviews

From the brilliantly twisted mind of director David Cronenberg comes "eXistenZ." What is "eXistenZ," exactly? A new male enhancement product? No, rather, it's a reality enhancement product; a new type of video-game/virtual reality experience, to be even more specific. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the programmer of said video game, while Jude Law plays her hapless protector and our surrogate as the audience. The further down the rabbit-hole Law's character goes, so too do we, until we are left dizzy and without words to describe what we just saw.

Early in the film, our characters are on the run from somebody who wants to do away with this ground-breaking technology. They'll have to deal with a creepy Willem DeFoe character and deadly spores along the way, while still finding time to explore their new reality and test their limitations. Cronenberg's film pretty much hits the ground running and doesn't allow us the chance to catch our breath as it levels up. Because this is vintage Cronenberg, of course there is plenty of gooey grossness to go around, the least of which are the "portholes" that allow would-be gamers to plug in. Those crushing on the lovely Leigh may find themselves feeling somewhat conflicted about whether the "porthole" exploring is sensual or nausea inducing.

Plot-wise, the film draws comparisons to other late '90s tech- thrillers like "Dark City" and "The Matrix." Heck, even the DVD box- art states that "eXistenZ" "makes 'The Matrix' look like 'Child's Play.'" Well, I don't know about all that, seeing as how I personally don't ever recall seeing a killer doll dodging bullets in that movie, but no matter. What sets "eXistenZ" apart is that it is less focused on its dystopian future and more focused on our present quandary in balancing technological advances with good old down-to- earth human experience. Like the best Cronenberg films, "eXistenZ" has a lot to say about that subject, but doesn't bludgeon or bore his audience with it. Trade the giant placenta-like sacks of skin in this film for the latest iPhone, and it's safe to say that "eXistenZ" was ahead of its time, to say the least.

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Release Date:

23 April 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Existenz See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$810,262, 25 April 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (workprint)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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