Why is Kristen Stewart’s new movie ‘Crimes of the Future’ freaking so many people out?

Image by Neon

Imagine watching somebody get cut open on a surgical table right before your eyes. That’s what happened for viewers who attended the premiere of Kristen Stewart’s new movie Crimes of the Future.

The movie is set in the undisclosed near future at a time when human beings can no longer feel physical pain. The spine-chilling film follows couple Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Léa Seydoux), performance artists whose act involves live theatrical surgery. The movie also follows National Organ Registry investigator, Timlin (Kristen Stewart), who takes a particularly strong interest in Saul Tenser’s work. 

Crimes of the Future is director David Cronenberg’s first movie in eight years. His past films include popular movies like The Fly (1986), Crash (1996), and A History of Violence (2005). All have received varying levels of audience response. Now, his newest film has audience members sickened enough to get up out of their seats and walk out of the premiere, and one look at the trailer may inform you as to why. 

Image via Neon

The body horror movie has no shortage of gorey scenes, but it is surprisingly light on the blood. It substitutes the bloody aspect you might find in other films for repulsing surgical procedures such as a man with an extra set of ears on his head getting his mouth and eyes sewn shut. Also, a woman sliding her fingers inside the open stomach of a man and slipping her tongue inside the wound. 

Such scenes are likely the reason why moviegoers walked out of the premiere. Kristen Stewart even had to ask herself “What the fuck are we doing?’ whilst filming, but then told Insider that the movie became “so crystal clear to me” after watching the premiere.

Image via Neon

When asked about Cronenberg’s signature style of filmmaking and the audience’s reaction, Stewart considered it par for the course and exciting.

“Everyone loves to talk about how his movies are difficult to watch and it’s fun to talk about people walking out of Cannes screenings. But every single gaping, weird bruise in his movies, it makes my mouth open. You wanna lean in toward it. And it never repulses me ever. The way I feel, it is through really visceral desire and that’s the only reason we’re alive. We’re pleasure sacks.”

The definition of a pleasure sack is a little up in the air, but we think we get the point. Cronenberg seems to understand the duality at play in body horror movies such as his. On one hand you’re sickened, on the other hand you’re fascinated. Either way, it’s hard to look away, and that’s all any film can hope for.

Crimes of the Future premieres in Los Angeles and New York theatres on June 3, with a wider release on June 10.