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eXistenZ (1999)



Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 63
Fresh: 45
Rotten: 18

Critics Consensus: Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.

Average Rating: 5.9/10
Reviews Counted: 12
Fresh: 7
Rotten: 5

Critics Consensus: Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.


Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 47,945


Movie Info

Set in the near-future, eXistenZ depicts a society in which game designers are worshipped as superstars and players can organically enter inside the games. At the center of the story is Allegra Geller whose latest games system eXistenZ taps so deeply into its users fears and desires that it blurs the boundaries between reality and escapism. When fanatics attempt to assassinate Allegra, she is forced to flee. Her sole ally is Ted Pikul (Law), a novice security guard who is sworn to protect her. … More

R (for strong sci-fi violence and gore, and for language)
Action & Adventure , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
David Cronenberg
In Theaters:
Oct 19, 1999


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Critic Reviews for eXistenZ

All Critics (66) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (18) | DVD (17)

I just don't happen to like puzzle films of any kind, but I must credit Mr. Cronenberg with more intellectual depth than most of his fellow pessimistic movie pranksters.

Full Review… | April 27, 2007
New York Observer
Top Critic

Dark, delirious fun.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It's good art direction in search of an idea.

Full Review… | July 21, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Jennifer Jason Leigh is an ideal Cronenberg heroine, projecting a personality that is smart, wary and capable of obsessiveness.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

[It's] meant to have a whiff of the philosophical, even if its intellectual ambition seems mostly limited to spelling affectations.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
New York Times
Top Critic

The Matrix is mainstream sci-fi, but eXistenZ, written by Cronenberg, is much stranger; it creates a world where organic and inorganic are not separate states, but kind of chummy.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

It's a disturbing, disorienting sensation -- puzzles within puzzles, games within games -- that continues right up to the last shot.

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Sacramento News & Review

Experienced gamers should find much to savor through the films unique assessments on the nature of reality.

Full Review… | October 25, 2007
Projection Booth

[Cronenberg is] a laughing existentialist here, a philosopher who sees the comedy in disorientation.

Full Review… | July 30, 2007

Brave moviegoers and fans of writer-director David Cronenberg will find funny dialogue and grotesquely engrossing scenes in his latest sci-fi horror tale.

Full Review… | July 2, 2004

Fans may find certain similarities between eXistenZ and Videodrome bothersome, but both films are the real thing.

Full Review… | October 23, 2003
Combustible Celluloid

An evolution for the filmmaker that will reach maturity in the quiet, devastatingly economical eloquence of Spider.

Full Review… | March 9, 2003
Film Freak Central

a genuinely jolting yarn... Cronenberg eventually succeeds in making the audience feel as disoriented as Allegra...

Full Review… | June 23, 2002
Kalamazoo Gazette

Cronenberg's commentary here, though grotesque, belies a certain intelligence.

Full Review… | June 5, 2002
Boxoffice Magazine

The premise is solid, the script is clever and well-thought-out, and the movie is consistently engaging...

Full Review… | April 3, 2002
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Bringing a light touch to the grave issues of mortality, illusion, identity, and technology that have obsessed him throughout his career, Cronenberg turns them into a diverting, disorienting, ultimately inconsequential hand of solitaire.

Full Review… | March 24, 2002
Boston Phoenix

A s-fi thriller that challenges us to ponder the propensity we all have for surrendering ourselves to cheap thrills as a substitute for the boredom of reality.

Full Review… | March 4, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

The only visual jolts come from Cronenberg's trademark images of grotesque amphibians and oozing intestines, and these creepy-crawly moments are merely repulsive, not provocative.

Full Review… | January 9, 2002

In the hands of anyone else, the notion of computer game terrorists would be ludicrous, and even Cronenberg fails to explain their motives, using the film instead to indulge in surreal exercises of dream logic.

Full Review… | December 3, 2001

...too clever for its own good. Once you catch on to the isn't half as entertaining.

May 7, 2001
Movie Metropolis

eXistenZ feels fresh, even if the impulses behind it weren't wholly original.

January 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for eXistenZ

My impression was that eXistenZ was a kinda flat movie version of a good original screenplay. Not great - but there is definitely some good stuff in here as Cronenberg messes with with ideas of reality, role playing and film making..

Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer


An intriguing sci-fi thriller that creates an efficient atmosphere of mystery and takes us further and further into this engrossing puzzle in a strange universe we cannot help but always want to know more about - even if after awhile it does not take much to see where it is all going.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

Released right around the time as that famous mind bender The Matrix, this is David Cronenberg making something of a spiritual sequel to his earlier masterpiece Videodrome.

Focusing on video games and virtual reality, this is one of those thriller films that really makes you question what's real and what isn't, constantly blurring the line. I think Total Recall and even Inception did this sort of thing better, but DC gives it the good college try here, and should be commended for it.

The plot (I'll try to make it as simple as possible) follows a video game designer who, after an assassination attempt, escapes with her assistant in the world of her latest creation, the titular eXistenZ. What makes this fit into the world of Cronenberg is the trademark mixing of technology with flesh, namely the use of bio ports and umbilical like things for the gaming system, and col gun made out of bones and muscles that uses teeth for ammo.

It's all very bizarre, and gross, and creative, like the best of the director's output, but I think this one could have spent more time in the oven. It feels very rough, somewhat under cooked, and filled with good ideas, but suffers overall due to needing to be more fleshed out.

I was initially going to critique the acting, but thankfully the film itself addresses this, and I thought it was rather clever. It also is cool that the film has a reason for being really disorienting and confusing, even if the end result isn't completely new or original. It at least scores points for building on the Videodrome concept using other forms of technology, and showing the effect of using this technology even more so.

There's a good cast her, and they seem to be having a lot of fun. The effects are quite good too, and really deliver the goods when it comes to being gross and uncomfortable.

All in all, this is not for everyone, and, while it doesn't fully come together, I do have to give it some points for trying, and it at least kept me engaged and questioning things (in a good way).

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


All hail Existenz! Its not Cronenberg's best but its a fun twisted watch.

paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer

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