Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 29
  2. Negative: 2 out of 29

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Critic Reviews

  1. Leigh is perfectly cast as the game-pod goddess.
  2. Reviewed by: Ron Wells
    This is not light-hearted entertainment. Be prepared to think. Uncle Dave will take you someplace new.
  3. 90
    eXistenZ gives us Cronenberg at his wittiest, and Leigh at her most vulnerable and fascinating.
  4. The Cronenberg trademarks are here in full force, including an outrageous sexual suggestiveness in his bizarre special effects.
  5. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Michael Wilmington
    With his usual consummate visual skills and his flair for the nauseatingly audacious, David Cronenberg’s written (spottily) and directed (stunningly) a movie that often makes you feel as if you'd lost contact with reality: a twisted, nightmarish tale of futuristic reality games and a couple on the run. [23 April 1999, Friday, p.D]
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Like the virtual game he plays on us, the film is weird, it's addictive, and Lord, it's alive!
  7. 80
    Though Cronenberg makes some creepy insinuations, eXistenZ is more effective as a black comedy than as a visceral shocker.
  8. 80
    Audaciously combining conviction and childish humor, this SF thriller reminds us that the distinction between the tangible and the intangible may be frighteningly arbitrary--an idea that's made too scary ever to seem trivial, no matter how silly things get.
  9. 80
    Almost buoyant in its creepiness and positively bejeweled in its disgust -- the movie can be enjoyably considered as a self-conscious fiction in the convoluted tradition of Raul Ruiz or Brian De Palma's "Raising Cain."
  10. Reviewed by: David Stratton
    This is unquestionably Cronenberg Lite, but there is plenty of fun to be had from the absurdities and convoluted plotting, and a solid cast lends stature to the far-fetched fantasies.
  11. A triumphant return to the icky, otherworldly eerieness that graced such earlier Cronenberg works as "Scanners," "Videodrome" and "Dead Ringers."
  12. In the game of eXistenZ it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.
  13. Cronenberg is one of the cinema's true originals, and a trip to his spooky world is always a harrowing, thought-provoking experience.
  14. Typically icky and unusually witty.
  15. 75
    As loaded with special effects as "The Matrix,'' but they're on a different scale. Many of his best effects are gooey, indescribable organic things, and some of the most memorable scenes involve characters eating things that surgeons handle with gloves on.
  16. Viewers should stay far away unless they have a strong stomach for deliberately disgusting effects.
  17. 70
    Cronenberg, who both wrote and directed, is out to fool you -- to give you just enough information to let you figure out what's going on, and then bluff you out of using it. The movie, in other words, is a game itself.
  18. 70
    For many, eXistenZ will probably be more trick than treat. But the film epitomizes the phrase sui generis ("of its own kind") and still maintains a wry attitude toward itself.
  19. EXistenZ, unlike existence, just lacks that certain mystique.
  20. New York Daily News
    Reviewed by: Jami Bernard
    David Cronenberg is one of the most intellectual film makers around.
  21. Its name, the film's title, is pronounced "eggs is tense" and meant to have a whiff of the philosophical, even if its intellectual ambition seems mostly limited to spelling affectations.
  22. Reviewed by: Tom Meek
    Dead-on for Cronenberg fans though the mutant reptile and amphibian factory might be a tad(pole) too much for the squeamish at heart.
  23. If this new film seems less prescient than its predecessor, it's only because reality is rapidly catching up with Cronenberg's warped imagination.
  24. 60
    The movie may be a grim warning against the perils of technology and its ability to spew alternative realities, but Cronenberg himself can hardly claim to have his feet firmly planted on the ground.
  25. 50
    Because of the potential of the idea and Cronenberg's reputation as a film maker, it's a real disappointment to watch eXistenZ fall apart the way it does.
  26. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Andy Seiler
    Cronenberg can create alternative worlds like few other filmmakers, and that's a real achievement. If he learns to make us care about them, he'll really have something. [23 April 1999, Life, p.8E]
  27. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The performances are so terrible that it's hard to know whether Cronenberg wants to signal that much of what we're seeing isn't "real" or he has just forgotten how to write for hemoglobular flesh vessels--i.e., human beings.
  28. Crazy? Crazy is too mild a word by far to describe the twisted worm at play inside the skull of the Canadian director David Cronenberg -- And that craziness is given full vent in the vomitorium called eXistenZ.
User Score

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 131 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. Feb 21, 2014
    I didn't like the movie much, despite the decent actors the movie is not well made, the visual characters are not that convincing, the killingI didn't like the movie much, despite the decent actors the movie is not well made, the visual characters are not that convincing, the killing scenes (and other visual effects) are lame and the whole story is not that good. Another thing I must mention that the movie is rather strange and sometimes disturbing. The only thing that I really liked - it's the way the game elements are shown in the movie - all that awkwardness in the story progression and NPC interaction. Full Review »
  2. Jun 28, 2013
    This movie was able to surpass the physical reality of digital computer games by representing them as living objects, then flip commonThis movie was able to surpass the physical reality of digital computer games by representing them as living objects, then flip common viewpoints we have. "Its just a game" is no longer valid. Like Videodrome, Cronenberg knows there will always be a subversive element to media that extends beyond the screen. This time, our heroes know, but can't resist to plug in. One character believes that the creativity of game design grants them some free will in their own space and widens their identities into a new reality. Allegra Geller, with overconfidence of a game designer, goes on an adventure with the apprehensive Ted Pikul and they both lose perspective of their reality and their identity. Obvious comparisons to the Matrix or Dark City will take place, but this movie went beyond those in many ways. This story recognizes the desires people have to become someone new and how those desires could be exploited. Instead of becoming Neo with help of friends, Ted Pikul is forced into a much murkier game situation. While the stakes aren't as high as the existence of the human race, Ted and Geller's life and sanity are still on the line. This is not just a cheesy VR movie like many 80s 90s movies like Max Headroom, Remote Control, Jonny Mnemonic, Lawnmower Man and even the Matrix became. Now onto other elements of this movie...The musical score is just as good as Eastern Promises and later Cronenberg movies. You might not notice it against the absurdity of many of the scenes, but it is. The acting is quite good and its humor should appeal to a younger audience. The biological movie effects in this are excellent and you might lose your appetite. Perhaps this movie isn't as well liked as it could be because it doesn't involve as much violence and it doesn't have a tidy plot or demonic machine enemies. This movie had a different focus. There are spy elements that were added in but didn't turn the movie into a heightened thriller. The editing of this movie made it sort of like a bizarre reflective journey. You might not enjoy this movie if you think the digital world as fake and your identity as a biological life form is real. This is a great, entertaining movie, while is not perfect is one of my favorites with some re-watch value. Full Review »
  3. AdamA.
    Sep 26, 2007
    This movie is one of the best films I've seen. Totally original. Great cast and performances. Killer story and great direction. Totally This movie is one of the best films I've seen. Totally original. Great cast and performances. Killer story and great direction. Totally creepy. So many great scenes. Full Review »