You may know Crimes of the Future by its controversy. People walked out at Cannes! It must be REALLY GROSS. What possibly could have been so horrific, SO REVOLTING, to make people WALK OUT?? WOAH!!! I gotta see this movie now!
I’m here to tell you that, as a David Cronenberg fan, I was thoroughly disappointed, and I genuinely think people were paid off to walk out as part of a publicity stunt. The movie sucks. David, I love you, but… What the hell?
Turns out, the movie is like that guy at the state fair who promises to bring you ‘exotic monsters from the darkest jungles of Africa’. If you don’t know better, you enter his beat-up trailer, walk through corridors with ‘spooky’ lighting and fake jungle decor, and realize that the ‘monsters’ are really just a crocodile and a python. Which is cool… if you’re six.
I won’t deny that there’s some trippy Cronenberg imagery to behold. The ear-man, the internal organs, a child eating a trashcan and then being killed by his mother, having an autopsy performed on that same child’s corpse… There are ‘monsters’ to Cronenberg’s exhibit for sure. It’s not nauseating like some of his other work, but hey, at least it’s intriguing and occasionally memorable.
The problem is, these five or six ‘oh my god Cronenberg is disgusting’ scenes are lone islands in a sea of boring-ass filler. Most scenes consist of Viggo Mortensen choking or coughing; Kristen Stewart whispering incoherently; Welket Bungué being poorly lit in an alleyway; and NOTHING OF CONSEQUENCE HAPPENING.
Even the premise is weirdly safe. Essentially, it’s set in a future where humans no longer feel pain, so they’re free to do kinky shit to their bodies because it doesn’t hurt. It’s like Cronenberg sapped all the tension out of his world, and the end result is that the stakes are shockingly low. If nobody feels pain… why would I care if something bad happens to them?
For example, in one of the ‘shocking’ scenes, Viggo Mortensen gets cut open as part of an art exhibit. That’s actually a neat Cronenberg idea – a futuristic sort of performance art involving a live dissection of a person. Except Viggo can’t feel anything. So… Where’s the shock? I was shocked that he basically had an orgasm while it happened… But it was laughter, not repulsion, a sense of: ‘I can’t believe how stupid this is’.
It truly is just a glorified B-movie. You get a few attention-grabbing moments, some neat ideas, some controversy, a gritty ambience, and a phenomenal musical theme (the sort that legitimizes even the most horrible of scenes whenever it plays).
And then you add… nothing. Throw in some pointless character drama, bad dialogue, long stretches of nothing happening, bland set pieces… Some legitimately awful acting all-around… And as long as you space out the main attractions, nobody will complain.
In another world, Cronenberg couldn’t get away with this misleading shit. Maybe to him, this is his magnum opus, and he’s just senile… I’m more inclined to believe that he’s riding on the big-name recognition, combined with carnival tactics, in an attempt to make money with as little effort as possible.
In any case… Don’t waste your time or money. Watch the trailer, then watch Men. Now THAT has some mind-blowing body-horror. But Crimes of the Future is a shameless scam, plain and simple.