David Cronenberg’s films offer a brutal truth: that humans are merely meat. This is not to say that cannibalism is the norm for him. Rather than emphasizing any potential consumption or digestion of bodies, he takes a look at humanity through the lens of our physical reality and the possibilities therein. Any person is capable of being broken down into the elements of flesh and bone, blood and guts. Cronenberg’s posit sits underneath all of his films, rising closer to the surface as needed.
While most closely associated with horror, and rightly so, Cronenberg has flirted with other genres in his 55-year career. Eastern Promises and A History of Violence might offer truly horrifying moments, but beyond the presentation of human brutality, there is no easily persuasive avenue to argue that either is a categorical horror film. Cronenberg is not trying to argue that films should aim to scare, or that they deal with a monster, but his treatment of the human body as a vehicle for pain and abject cruelty can crawl through whichever genre he decides to make his sandbox that time.
Famously, of course, his association with horror is well earned. It feels like a fool’s errand to go through the myriad ways that Cronenberg has earned his stripes as one of the most influential and brilliant horror directors in the history of cinema. Like trying to document how grass is green or beer tastes better outside. Even with the obviousness of the statement, it does bear some examination into the ways that Cronenberg embraces body horror through the horror of the body.
Read Deidre Crimmins' full look at Cronenberg and his films The Fly, Dead Ringers, and Crimes of the Future: thatshelf.com/david-cronenberg-sees-people-as-the-flesh-bags-that-they-are/
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