‘Crimes of the Future’ Movie Review: David Cronenberg Body Horror Holds Back

Crimes of the Future marks the major feature return for filmmaker David Cronenberg since 2014’s Maps to the Stars. However, his comeback to disturbing body horror doesn’t quite live up to the hype generated at the Cannes Film Festival premiere. A tremendous cast aside, Crimes of the Future is disconnected from its own meaning.

‘Crimes of the Future’ puts David Cronenberg back into body horror

In a futuristic society, humans started to adapt to a synthetic environment. New transformations and mutations changed the way society functions. However, Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and his partner, Caprice (Léa Seydoux), take advantage of such advances for use in their performance artistry.

Crimes of the Future finds Caprice and Saul publicly showcasing the metamorphosis of his organs in a way never seen before. Their avant-garde performances draw crowds who gush over their work. However, their art is about to take a major step in a new direction when they meet a father (Scott Speedman) who is grieving over the death of his son.

Writer/director David Cronenberg is full of meaning about openness

Cronenberg’s latest certainly treads between horror and sci-fi, but it doesn’t take itself very seriously. There’s a dark comedic element threaded throughout the movie. Crimes of the Future often earns its laughs out of purely awkward social encounters that inspire uncomfortable laughs. However, nobody sees a Cronenberg without expecting to feel out of sorts.

Nevertheless, all of this talk of walkouts at the Cannes Film Festival is hyperbole. Crimes of the Future has more than enough body horror to satisfy fans of the sub-genre, but Cronenberg feels like he’s holding back here both narratively and graphically. This world doesn’t feel entirely developed and the characters don’t really give the audience a reason to care.

Mortensen and Seydoux deliver delicious performances that double down on the Cronenberg atmosphere, but Seydoux is the true knockout here. She often carries the film’s weight on her shoulders, offering much more to the character than what’s on the page. Meanwhile, Kristen Stewart gives a bit of a strange performance with an interesting cadence, but she somehow manages to make it work here.

Crimes of the Future offers some truly surreal moments of body horror that are incredibly captivating. However, it has weak worldbuilding and consistently seems to be holding back. There’s an abundance of otherworldly things going on, but it doesn’t add up to a very compelling story. Crimes of the Future certainly is not the new sex.

Crimes of the Future slices into theaters on June 3.

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