The films of David Cronenberg are concerned with the horror of bodily transformation, whether it be in a physical sense such as body mutation or in the psychological sense of a steady mental breakdown. Cronenberg has lifted up the slimy underside of our body image, and thrown it back to us in all its ugly glory. Though he may stray through genre, narrative and filmmaking formats, there’s the omnipresent darkness and ugliness hiding in his work, reminding you of the truths you try to forget about humans.
It’s audacious filmmaking, yes, because nobody really likes to squirm at the horrors on a screen, not for a long time, not when it feels real. But Cronenberg is more interested in reality, however warped it may be, than your personal comfort. He’s not likely to make a feel-good comedy, because to him, life isn’t a feel good comedy. Life is hiding all the things we’re ashamed on in a dark box under the bed until, inevitably, they come out to break ruin on those around. It’s almost like the Pandora’s box myth, played out in popular culture. Whether it be internalised within the secret desires of the mind, or played out through abhorrent psychical disease or perversion, us humans have a way of fucking each other and ourselves up and there’s something twisted about this that Cronenberg finds fascinating.
Prior to filmmaking, it’s important to note Cronenberg studied science, primarily Biology and Lepidoptary (species on insects such as flies and butterflies). Whether it started from these studies into horrors of primal animal instincts, or the science behind psychology, Cronenberg has always had a fascination with the macabre that extends past spectacle. His films can’t all be simplified into the ‘horror film’ genre, moreso he is a director obsessed with the psychology of horror and violence in our culture, but ultimately his films are defined by much more than horror themes.
In preparation for the release of Cosmopolis today, we chart the evolution of the distinctive style of David Cronenberg – an ever-evolving, thought provoking and sometimes disturbing world.