eXistenZ is David Cronenberg’s The Matrix. But the layers of reality and existential indirection are far more complex and interesting than with The Matrix (although both films are of high quality and have plenty to hold the interest). With eXistenZ, we quickly get into this ‘now, is this the real world?’ questions, and keeping track is half the fun. The twists and turns of the plot are pacy and well-thought out. Reality layers are built on computer games, and there are many entertaining in-jokes: anyone who has played simple role-playing games such as one of the Monkey Island series will quickly recognise the style of interaction with the games characters, and it must of been great fun for the actors to play with this.
Unlike the Matrix, though, Existenz feels and looks like a feature length episode of the X-Files or the modern The Outer Limits. The glamorous female lead and bright, glossy lighting have a lot to do with this. As is typical for a Cronenberg film, it’s also pretty gruesome (much interaction with the game world is through indistinguishable organic parts that gets diseased, blown up, etc.).