Existenz (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

Existenz (1999)



Critic Consensus: Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.

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. Persuading Ted into playing the game, Allegra draws them both into a phantasmagoric world where existence ends and eXistenZ begins.more
Rating: R (for strong sci-fi violence and gore, and for language)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: David Cronenberg
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 19, 1999


Jennifer Jason Leigh
as Allegra Geller
Jude Law
as Ted Pikul
Ian Holm
as Kiri Vinokur
Don McKellar
as Yevgeny Nourish
Oscar Hsu
as Waiter
Kris Lemche
as Noel Dichter
Robert A. Silverman
as D'Arcy Nader
Vik Sahay
as Male Assistant
Kirsten Johnson
as Female Assistant
Balazs Koos
as Male Volunteer
Kris Lemeche
as Noel Dichter
Stephanie Belding
as Female Volunteer
Gerry Quigley
as Trout Farm Worker
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Existenz

Critic Reviews for Existenz

All Critics (66) | Top Critics (12)

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

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

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


Built on an efficient atmosphere of mystery, this is an intriguing sci-fi thriller that takes us further and further inside this strange universe that we can't help but want to know more and more about - even if after a while it doesn't take us 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

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