Watching the first half hour of this film, I was convinced that this was going to easily be my favourite Cronenberg. The film doesn’t quite fall apart, and remains consistently interesting, exciting and surprising… but somehow, I almost wish it went in a different direction, but am still more than satisfied with the results. More than a commentary on tv culture, the film is still widely relevant as an exploring with our relationship with all forms of media. In the 80s television and video tapes were the new frontier, in this day and age, it is the Internet. Looking at the film now, it’s commentary on the affect on television seems somehow hyperbolic, and yet, it seems like a perfectly apt reflection on our relationship with Internet technology.
The film’s further exploration on our perception of reality, sex and violence. Max’s violent murder of his co-workers seems like a strange commentary on the belief that violence in popular media will incite people to commit crimes, especially violent ones. It seems with every horrible human action, there is a voice screaming that it’s because of video games or the Saw movies. There is a madness in his actions, but it’s not a simple cause and effect… there is something far nuanced in his break from convention and morality. It’s a change in his perception of the world around him, a revelation that skews and changes everything. As a man who is already detached, and he is especially vulnerable. It explores how naively we approach so much of what surrounds us, how we believe it has no effect on us whatsoever. How moving images can change the way we think and feel, and even the way we see.
Strangely enough, the only contemporary filmmaker who taps into the madness that Cronenberg evokes is Japanese director, Sion Sono. The film fits neatly with Suicide Club and Noriko’s Dinner Table. Are there any other filmmakers today that dare to approach social issues and their impact on the individual psyche with the same absurd enthusiasm as Cronenberg or Sono?