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eXistenZ

eXistenZ (1999)

tomatometer

58

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

Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.

audience

69

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 47,732

My Rating

Movie Info

Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, who has long been fascinated by the ways new technology shapes and manipulates the human beings who believe they are its masters, is in familiar territory with eXistenZ, a futuristic thriller which combines elements of science fiction, horror and action-adventure. What is eXistenZ? According to the glossary Cronenberg put together for this film, it is a new organic game system that, when downloaded into humans, accesses their central nervous system,

Oct 19, 1999

Miramax

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All Critics (65) | 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.

April 27, 2007 Full Review Source: New York Observer | Comment (1)
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Dark, delirious fun.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

July 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop 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.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

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

October 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

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

July 30, 2007 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

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

July 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

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

October 23, 2003 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

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

March 9, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

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

June 23, 2002 Full Review Source: Kalamazoo Gazette
Kalamazoo Gazette

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

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

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

April 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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.

March 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
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.

March 4, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
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.

January 9, 2002 Full Review Source: Movieline
Movieline

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.

December 3, 2001 Full Review Source: BBC

...too clever for its own good. Once you catch on to the gimmick...it 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..
June 11, 2009
brooklynspo

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.
December 10, 2013
blacksheepboy

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).
February 27, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

All hail Existenz! Its not Cronenberg's best but its a fun twisted watch.
February 11, 2012
paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • eXistenZ: Mundo virtual (ES)
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