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David Cronenberg
Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart
Writing Credits:
David Cronenberg

Humans adapt to a synthetic environment, with new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice, Saul Tenser, celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $22.99
Release Date: 8/9/2022

• “Making of Crimes of the Future” Featurette
• Trailers & Previews


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Crimes of the Future [Blu-Ray] (2022)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 12, 2023)

We last saw notable “oddball” filmmaker David Cronenberg with 2014’s Maps to the Stars, a more conventional feature than his usual fare. Cronenberg returns to his standard horror/sci-fi fare with 2022’s Crimes of the Future.

In the near future, humans struggle to adapt. Surroundings alter their biological makeup in a variety of ways, as “Accelerated Evolution Syndrome” means new organs and other shifts.

While society attempts to cope with this, performance artist Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) uses his new biology as part of his work. This leads him down a dark journey with unexpected outcomes.

Take that as a loose plot outline, mainly because Crimes comes with a loose plot. As implied at the start, the film finds Cronenberg back with the kind of grotesque focus on bodily oddities that marked a lot of his most famous fare such as The Fly and Dead Ringers.

Those films offer more of an emphasis on characters and their unusual circumstances than true narratives – not that either flops in that regard, but they don’t bring plot-heavy pieces. Expect the same from Crimes, and to an even greater degree.

We know to expect something off-kilter when then opening features a young boy (Sotiris Siozos) who eats objects like trash cans and whose mother (Lihi Kornowski) kills him due to his mutated abilities. Both elements tell the audience to anticipate a dark, ugly affair, and Cronenberg follows suit.

Well, “dark and ugly” with a satirical side, also typical of Cronenberg. He likes to find an undercurrent of humor in much of his work as a sly contrast to the unpleasantness of the visuals.

When Cronenberg works at his best, he delivers clever, unsettling fare. Unfortunately, Crimes feels closer to Cronenberg self-parody than the filmmaker at his peak.

Cronenberg’s affinity for unpleasant visuals and circumstances always threatens to overwhelm his films. Given how he delights in the graphic and grotesque, this turns into an ever-present issue.

In the case of Crimes, Cronenberg’s fetishistic fascination with unsettling changes to the human body become dominant – too dominant, as he forgets to tell a true story. Crimes acts more as some loose themes connected by ugly visuals than a real narrative or character piece.

In better Cronenberg movies, we get a real sense for the issues and pathology involved. In Crimes, we wind up with little more than “body porn”, as the movie delights in its unpleasant visuals and not much else.

At times, Crimes dallies with some thematic domains. Tenser’s situation seems to evoke today’s “anything for views” social media “influencers”, and the use of government agencies who clumsily attempt to monitor human evolution toys with topical domains in certain more conservative US states.

Unfortunately, Cronenberg fails to explore any of these topics in a satisfying manner. These may offer some undercurrents but they get lost in the fetishistic moments on display.

And we get a whole lot of those, as they dominate Crimes. When Cronenberg doesn’t specifically delight in graphic ugliness, the movie alludes to those topics and threatens to dive into them at any moment.

While Cronenberg manages a typically creepy an impactful visual style, the absence of a concise narrative or much real purpose becomes a drawback. The movie’s themes feel half-baked at best and fail to develop well.

Cronenberg does amass a good cast, as in addition to Mortensen, we find “names” like Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart and Scott Speedman. Escept for the borderline campy Stewart, they do fine.

Too bad they find themselves in service of such a spotty story. Crimes shows Cronenberg with his ability to unsettle intact, but he can’t find a compelling narrative around which to build this affair.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

Crimes of the Future appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a largely positive presentation.

Overall sharpness worked fine. A little softness interfered with occasional dark interiors, but the majority of the film provided appropriate delineation.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws also failed to manifest.

Colors opted for a fairly standard mix of amber/orange and teal. While not creative, the hues seemed well-rendered.

Blacks appeared dark and dense, while shadows felt generally fine, though some of the many low-light shots could come across as a smidgen murky. Nonetheless, I found little about which to complain here.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it lacked sparks but it suited the story. This meant a fairly low-key soundscape.

Music offered moody accompaniment across the front channels, and effects mostly remained in the ambient realm. A few scenes perked up the soundfield a little, but the film usually stayed with a general sense of settings and tone.

Audio quality worked fine, with dialogue that came across as concise and natural. Music seemed smooth and full.

Effects offered appealing accuracy and range, without distortion. Nothing here dazzled, but the soundtrack worked for the tale.

The Making of Crimes of the Future spans four minutes, 46 seconds. It brings notes from writer/director David Cronenberg, producer Robert Lantos, production designer Carol Spier, and actors Kristin Stewart, Lea Seydoux, Viggo Mortensen, Welket Bungue, Scott Speedman, Lihi Kornoswki, and Don McKellar.

The featurette looks at story and characters, Cronenberg’s approach and general domains. A few minor insights emerge but this mostly becomes a quick promo piece.

The disc opens with ads for Pleasure and Moonage Daydream. We also get two trailers for Crimes.

With Crimes of the Future, David Cronenberg returns to his fetishistic fascination with unsettling alterations to the human body and related graphic domains. Unfortunately, he fails to locate a compelling narrative to go along with his moody and creepy visuals. The Blu-ray delivers good picture and audio but it lacks substantial bonus materials. Crimes winds up as subpar Cronenberg.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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