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eXistenZ (1999) Blu-ray Review

go On sale now from 101 Films, directed by David Cronenberg.

get link During a closed-door demonstration of her new virtual reality video game, brilliant game designer Allegra Geller (Leigh) survives an attempt on her life by a crazed assassin. On the run with Ted Pikul (Law), a young marketing trainee who falls into the role of bodyguard, Allegra convinces Ted to join her in her game, eXistenZ. As the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur, the real-life dangers they sought to escape start to merge with their virtual world.

The master of body horror sees some of his lesser celebrated work get a Blu-ray release from British distributor 101 Films via their new Black Label line of titles. Starting with eXistenZ, 101 Films have more Cronenberg releases planned.

eXistenZ is not as greatly remembered as Videodrome (1983) or The Fly (1986) but is just as strong a film by him than any other. Coming in 1999, with the new millennium fast approaching, eXistenZ seems in some ways a continuation of his message in Videodrome, with technology and the corruption of the human body by it being a theme here. Not quite as explicit as his other movies, this work still has little moments of body horror peppered throughout that can be disturbing.

It also has a solid big hitter cast with Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Willem ‘I need sleep’ Dafoe making up the main members. Law, at this point in his career, was hot property and see his star rise even more when he co-starred in The Talented Mr. Ripley in the same year as eXistenZ. Jennifer Jason Leigh is at her dour faced best and seems a natural fit for a Cronenberg movie. Dafoe is even more of a fit just by being Dafoe.

The central idea though is one that some may say holds true today, the nature in which characters are mentally and physically hooked to the glorified video game in eXistenZ rings eeriely authentic two decades later. Western societies reliance on smart phones, apps and gaming uncannily comes to mind when watching this movie in 2018. The depiction of the games consoles/pods are organic and when plugged into the user look like they are now part of their bodies. It wouldn’t be surprising if something similar were to happen in this modern era of Google Glass and Apple Watches, someone out there would no doubt love for ‘built in wifi’ to be somehow installed in their mind.

101 Films have made sure this release is not short on extras like some of their older releases. The highlight of them being:

Christopher Eccleston Interview – Filmed in his kitchen, the former Doctor Who talks about how Cronenberg offered him his role, touches upon Cronenberg’s other movies, the vibe the director gave off during the shooting of eXistenZ, playing Frisbee, the prophetic nature of the feature and more. 16 minutes long.

There are also two audio commentaries, one by Cronenberg and a new track by the esteemed Kim Newman and Ryan Lambie and a third by Nathaniel Thompson. There is also a Frame By Frame documentary about production designer Carol Spier from 1999 which also acts as a making of feature for eXistenZ, as well as other vintage featurettes and on set interviews with various cast and crew members.

The disc is accompanied by a booklet with essays on the movie. The set is limited to 3000 copies.

Order here.