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SYFY WIRE David Cronenberg

Sci-fi horror legend David Cronenberg returns with first look at new film 'Crimes of the Future'

David Cronenberg is back, and he's brought creepy sci-fi body horror with him.

By Matthew Jackson
Crimes of the Future (2022)

It's been eight years since David Cronenberg released his last feature film, Maps to the Stars. But back in 2021 there were rumblings the legendary genre auteur was plotting a return, and just this week the rumors that his new film would hit the Cannes Film Festival in May began to swirl. Now, we finally have our first look at Cronenberg's latest dark work — and we don't have long to wait until we get to see the entire thing. 

Crimes of the Future was written, according to Cronenberg, two decades ago, but the filmmaker put the script away for years working on other projects, waiting for the day when he could finally get the sci-fi body horror film made. It stars certain Cronenberg mainstays like Viggo Mortensen, who worked with the director on films like Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method, but also brings new actors like recent Oscar nominee Kristen Stewart, into the Cronenberg fold. 

Though it shares a name with one of Cronenberg's earliest projects, an independent film released in 1970, Crimes of the Future is actually a new, original story set in a future in which humans are living in an entirely synthetic environment and the next phase of human expression is experimentation with body organs. In that space, a performance artist named Saul Tesner (Mortensen) emerges, giving public showcases of the ways in which his organs are mutating through "avant-garde performances." Saul's show, alongside his partner Caprica (Lea Seydoux), eventually catches the attention of an investigator (Stewart) working for the National Organ Registry. As they focus in on Saul and the ways in which his body is changing, a mysterious group pushing the future of human evolution is revealed. 

The teaser trailer, released this morning by NEON, showcases the eerie world in which this story will unfold, with a particular focus on the kind of sci-fi body horror Cronenberg is famous for.

Check it out below:

Though he's best known for sci-fi body horror films like ScannersThe Fly, and Videodrome, Cronenberg has spent much of the 21st century so far focuses on more grounded efforts, including crime films with no sci-fi elements. With Crimes of the Future, it looks like he's merging that somewhat more grounded aesthetic with the big ideas he played with in the 1970s and 1980s, to great effect. There are traces of things like Dead Ringers in this film, along with a futuristic look and plenty of disturbing energy that will put fans right back in that classic Cronenberg zone, even as the filmmaker pushes himself further.

That merging of the old and new Cronenberg sensibilities is particularly interesting when you consider the director has apparently been sitting on the script for two decades. 

"I wrote this script 20 years ago, so it was almost like a script that somebody else wrote," Cronenberg told Document back in December. "Except for some of the roles that I cast in Athens, with Greek actors, I had never heard any of the dialogue spoken before. So to hear Kristen start to speak the lines of this character, it was a shock! I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is a living creature—out of control, in the sense that it has its life–and it’s coming to life right in front of me.’"

Crimes of the Future makes its Cannes debut next month before arriving in theaters this June.

If you want to see more of Cronenberg's particular kind of classic of horror with the filmmaker in front of the camera, he stars in Clive Barker's 1990 horror film Nightbreed streaming now on Peacock.