top of page

Crimes of the Future (2022): Human Evolution

David Cronenberg's future in Crimes of the Future is one without physical pain but with much distress. What is the next step in human evolution and will the powers-that-be allow for a new future? Gabe works to unpack the messages in the film and discusses a world in which surgery is the new sex. Kat explains how recycling is a scam and how insidious microplastics are.

Sources in this Episode: Crimes of the Future, Explained: Dissecting David Cronenberg's New Movie Plastic Recycling is an Actual Scam | Climate Town Microplastics are in our bodies. How much do they harm us? Microplastics cause damage to human cells, study show Plastic-Eating Microbes — “Rapid Evolution” May Not Be Darwinian at All Bugs across globe are evolving to eat plastic, study finds

Other Crimes of the Future Reviews: Crimes of the Future, Explained: Dissecting David Cronenberg's New Movie CRIMES OF THE FUTURE | The Essential Explanation David Cronenberg Explains What 'Crimes of the Future' Is Really About 'Crimes Of The Future' Ending, Explained: What Happens At The Live Autopsy Performance? Is Saul Dead Or Alive? | DMT David Cronenberg on the evolution to 'Crimes of the Future' - Los Angeles Times Transhumanism, Surgery as Sex, and Humanity's Frightening Evolution - Signal Horizon Crimes of the Future: Why Scott Speedman's Character Is So Important “A Great Future in Plastics”: Crimes of the Future and Cronenberg’s Story of Evolution - Bright Lights Film Journal A Meditation on Human Evolution - Crimes of the Future Crimes of the Future is Cronenberg Evolved Crimes of the Future: Evolution of the New Flesh – The Twin Geeks


Media from this week's episode:

Crimes of the Future (2022):

Humans adapt to a synthetic environment, with new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice, Saul Tenser, celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances.

  • Director - David Cronenberg


Crimes of the Future: Digital Apocalypse Meets Eco Horror by Gabe Castro

RED: Quotes, someone else's words.

In the, hopefully very distant, future humans have evolved to no longer feel pain or much of anything. Illnesses are infrequent, pandemics a thing of the past. In this painless future, surgery is the new sex. An art form has arisen where one man, Saul Tenser, grows new organs has them removed in an overly sexual way in front of an overly horny crowd. These organs are perplexing, no one knows quite what they are designed to do or what to make of them. I guess you could say he has a red thumb, right? Because he grows organs, instead of plants. /laughter. Cronenberg’s future plays much into his aesthetic of flesh technology. This future tech looks primitive, inspired by the earthen exoskeletons of insects or the creativity of the Flintstones.

Cronenberg is well known for his stomach churning and perplexing dives into society, our obsession with technology, and the outright filth that is humanity. He gets a kick out of making you squirm, slicing up the body and modifying it into a forced evolution. Crimes of the Future, is no different. It begs the question, is human evolution over and will we need to adapt manually to give future generations a fighting chance? The digital apocalypse, as discussed on a previous Ghoul’s episode, shows us a world in which our “evolutions” are based in technology. Our adaptations assisted by the digital world, the machines an extension of our bodies. This blend of human and machine will become seamless, with us not able to distinguish where the flesh ends and the tech begins.

Cronenberg’s future isn’t too far off from this envisioned future only in that the changes do become genetic and affect the generations to come. Cronenberg’s tech in this film is disturbing, as always. The devices are designed to support everyday functions, such as sleeping without pain or digesting easier while eating. The latter of which is a skeletal chair that rocks around and spoon feeds you. It seemed less than ideal but had me thinking about accessible furniture design. This is one of the many themes explored in the film. This technology, however, is a hedonistic pursuit rather than a purely practical one. Humans can’t feel and the world has been adapted around them to compliment that, becoming numbing and catering to their any need, resulting in comfort. Without the stressors and challenges of life as we know it, humans seek out more reckless and wild things for pleasure, including surgery or just good ol’ slicing up your skin moments. Once humans have evolved past the basic needs, free of pain and suffering, our bodies become simply vessels reduced to storage devices for our minds. Art, as we see it in this film, is the final pursuit of humanity. Imagine what we could create were humanity to no longer need.

In an interview for the Canadian radio show q, Cronenberg explains his fascination with humans and our conenction to technology, “The body, for me, is the essence of human existence. It is what we are, and everything comes from that, including technology. In the 1950s, technology was this inhuman stuff from outer space that threatened us, you know, strange weapons and stuff like that. For me, technology has always been ultra-human and a complete extension of what we are. Our fists become, you know, missiles [...] So technology also becomes what we are, for the good and the bad. And you see it with every new technology. You see the internet, you see social media. It's wonderful, and it's horrible, horrible and horrifying. At the same time, it brings out the worst of us, and also the best. So to me, it's just natural to go there. I'm diving into the essence of what we are and the essence of the human condition, and [Crimes of the Future] takes me there.”

Crimes of the Future follows Saul Tenser, a man with “accelerated evolution syndrome” which has him growing new organs with unknown functions, and his partner in future-crimes, Caprice who hold surgery performances to remove those pesky extra organs. The film opens with a seemingly normal child on the beach. We cut to this not-so-normal child later as he brushes his teeth. Clearly craving more than dinner and with the strongest case of pica I’ve ever seen, he begins chomping away at the plastic trash bin near the sink. Foaming white liquid seeps from his mouth, allowing him to eat this Willy Wonka furniture item. His mother, troubled by this “creature” then kills the boy as he sleeps. We hear later, as she leaves a message for her now ex-husband, that she blames him for the creature and tells him to come get his son. This father, Lang Dotrice, does so and mourns the loss of his son. This plastic-eating boy is incredibly important, we later find, as he is the next step in human evolution.

Lang and his band of merry men, have surgically changed themselves to be able to digest and consume plastic. Lang explains to Tenser in a later scene, that there had been a long-hunger, a rumbling in his tummy that only plastic could satisfy. These modified humans now eat Soylent Purple, a plastic protein?? Bar, reminiscent of the bug bars from Snowpiercer only much better for the environment. Lang enlists Tenser’s help to do a live autopsy as one of his shows, where they will dissect Breckon, Lang’s son, and show that he is naturally evolved and had inherited the forced evolution his father underwent. Meanwhile Tenser is working with a detective, Cope, who has a strange growth of his own that is never addressed. Cope, for some reason, doesn’t want the world to know about the plastic eaters or the potential for future born plastic eaters. So Cope enlists the help of the incredibly uncomfortable to watch, listen to and be around, Timlin, played by Kristen Stewart who swaps out Brecken’s organs in an act of sabotage.