(Part 28 of an Ongoing Series)
You have to play the game to find out why you’re playing the game. It’s the future, Pikul. You’ll see how natural it feels.
Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh)
Maybe The Matrix is King Shit of ’99 Mountain, but in some ways, eXistenZ totally out-1999’s it. Where The Matrix has a little Cronenberg in its human embryo battery baths, eXistenZ actually is Cronenberg, so its hardware throbs and squishes so intensely you can taste its disease. And while The Matrix is Philip K. Dick for the multiplex masses, drawing a stark new boundary between “reality” and reality?, eXistenZ is way more Ubik (perhaps the Dickiest of all Dick’s 438 novels), glitching the “reality”/reality? border so often the word “mindfuck” practically loses all meaning.
In one of its myriad meta-moments, a character claims to detect a strong “anti-game theme” within the movie’s virtual reality world. Yet although eXistenZ quivers with its own marrow-deep paranoia about virtual reality, ultimately it’s not above having fun with it. Instead of ending with a Matrix-like triumphant call to action, eXistenZ ends with a scream, a shrug, and a cackling middle finger.