eXistenZ is a virtual reality game where players, their nervous systems linked to a techno-biological pod via a plug in the spinal column, enter hallucinatory worlds/stories fuelled by their fears, needs and desires. At the game's launch, cultish, controversial creator Allegra (Leigh) survives an assassination attempt by an anti-games fanatic. Fleeing from a 'fatwa' with the game company's trainee marketing man Ted (Law), she soon persuades him to join her in playing her invention, both to assess the damage done to her pod, and to share the vicarious pleasures to which she's addicted. But how can they tell which of the bizarre scenarios they find themselves in is imagined or real? And do they have any control over them? While weaving fresh variations on familiar Cronenberg themes, the film also proffers intriguing metaphors about the role of the artist in a consumer-driven world, and the ambivalent effects of fetishised, thrill-based entertainment. Most welcome, however, is the playful wit - unprecedented for Cronenberg - and the pacy, tortuous narrative, a series of Chinese boxes which leave fugitives and viewers alike wondering where in hell they are and what could possibly happen next. Dark, delirious fun.
Cast and crew
Jude Law Jennifer Jason Leigh Sarah Polley Callum Keith Rennie Willem Dafoe Robert A Silverman Ian Holm Christopher Eccleston Don McKellar