An open letter to David Cronenberg:
Dear Mr. Cronenberg,
For more than thirty years you have been the greatest horror director to come out of
But after The Fly you made Dead Ringers which was all PSYCHOLOGICAL and stuff. You started moving away from the whole sex parasite/armpit monster/killer kids/exploding heads/cancer bullets/psychic Christopher Walken/insectoid vomit monsters business and started doing more “arty” movies. While I got a kick out of the whole “Gynecological Instruments for Operating on Mutant Women” thing, it featured not ONE thing nearly as great as the maggot baby scene in The Fly. You got even artier with your next film, Naked Lunch. The biggest problem with that film was the narrative: Robocop going back and forth from the real world to the “fictional” world. I guess it’s not entirely your fault because if you WERE to film a true adaptation of the book, it would probably land you in jail. Then you did M. Butterfly. ‘Nuff said.
You made a return to form with your next film Crash, which is still the best James Spader as a Sexual Deviant That Gets Off on Vehicular Homicide Movie Ever Made. Then Existenz came along and even though it wasn’t perfect and only played in theaters for about five minutes, it was the closest you’ve come to your “old self” in a long time. But I’ll be damned; you got all arty on us again with Spider. At least Spider was vaguely Cronenbergian. Your next film, History of Violence was pure
In History of Violence you had Viggo Mortensen go from being a good natured man who wants to protect his family to becoming a slimy gangster. In this flick Viggo goes from being a slimy RUSSIAN gangster who becomes a good natured man who wants to protect SOMEONE ELSE’S family.
Basically if you slapped a bunch of fake tattoos on Viggo, gave him a Boris Badenov accent, and played History of Violence backwards, you got Eastern Promises.
Just like History of Violence, there are NO surprises in Eastern Promises. Whereas we pretty much knew from the get-go in Violence that Viggo was not who he claimed to be (more of the preview’s fault than yours), the viewer will recognize right away where Viggo’s loyalties will lie in this one. The “mystery” father of the abandoned baby will also come as no surprise to any half-intellectual viewer.
At least Viggo doesn’t look half asleep in this movie and gives a pretty good performance.
The ONLY reason you must’ve wanted to direct this movie (besides ogle Naomi Watts) is to film the brutal fight scene where Viggo gets naked in a bath house and beats the bejabbers out of two assassins. Unfortunately, the brutality of the fight scene is often lost whenever Viggo’s flopping nut sac enters the frame. And it enters A LOT. Excellent eyeball gouging though.
In a career of sex parasites, armpit monsters, killer kids, exploding heads, sexed-up television sets and slimy vomit monsters, the only scary image you give us in Eastern Promise is Viggo Mortensen’s balls.
There is a word for you Mr. Cronenberg. Perhaps one day you will rediscover yours, and with that newfound testicular fortitude, you will direct another classic like The Fly, Videodrome or They Came from Within. Until that day, God speed sir.
The Video Vacuum