1990s Sci-Fi Paranoid Thriller Gets Under Your Skin, Stream Now Without Netflix

By April Ryder | Published

  • A 1990s sci-fi thriller never got the hype is deserved.
  • eXistenZ was overshadowed by the relese of The Matrix.
  • The film stars Jude Law and Willem Dafoe.
  • You can stream eXistenZ on multiple platforms.

If you haven’t yet discovered David Cronenberg’s 1999 flick eXistenZ, now is as good a time as any. The sci-fi/thriller/horror movie had a hard time making an impact at the box office, but looking back, it’s a film you shouldn’t miss. 

Cast And Plot

The eXistenZ cast includes Jude Law (Fantastic Beasts), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Annihilation), Ian Holm (The Lord of The Rings), and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man), among others. The movie was written, directed, and produced by David Cronenberg. 

The plot of eXistenZ centers around a VR video game creator, Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and her latest game, eXistenZ. The company responsible for marketing her game has placed one of their trainees, Ted Pikul (Jude Law), on the case. To play the new virtual reality game, you have to have a gaming port installed into the base of your spine and a game pod with an “UmbiCord” that is attached to your port. 

Warring Video Game Companies

In the eXistenZ universe, two gaming companies compete against one another for power in the industry and a group of fanatics called Realists fight against the two companies percievably to stop the tech giants from “deforming” reality. 

When Allegra Geller is shot with an organic gun (so it could get past security) by a Realist during a virtual reality gaming demonstration of her newest game eXistenZ, Ted rushes to her side to help tend her wounds. When Geller realizes that her game pod (containing the only copy of her new game) has been damaged, she enlists Pikul to help her test its fortuity. 

Willem Dafoe Doing What Willem Dafoe Does Best

However, Pikul doesn’t have a gaming port installed, so the pair need to find someone who can install it for him on the fly. That’s when Willem Dafoe’s zany character comes into the mix, using what looks like a lube gun to inject a port into Pikul’s spine. 

As the story progresses, viewers get a clearer presentation of what’s really going on in the chaos… or do they? Throughout the film, you’re left questioning whether or not the current scene is operating within the real world of the film or the virtual reality game. 

The Matrix Overshadowed Existenz Upon Release

the matrix 5

eXistenZ oozes Cronenberg and is an excellent addition to his artistic collection of films. Channeling the oddities of The Fly, Scanners, and Crash, Cronenberg crafted a gem with this one, and the movie never really got the hype it deserved. 

One of the main reasons why eXistenZ may have been overlooked at the box office is that it was released just weeks after The Matrix. You all understand the impact of The Matrix on sci-fi and the film industry as a whole, and Cronenberg’s film didn’t sing in the same way. 

eXistenZ spoke a different language, while still operating within the realm of a prefabricated, virtual reality. The movie is much stranger, more organic, definitely more gross than its predecessor, and even oddly funny at times.

Where To Stream Existenz

You can currently find eXistenZ streaming on Showtime or PlutoTV, and you can rent the movie on AppleTV or YouTube. eXistenZ is rated ‘R’ and has a running time of just over an hour and a half. 

And if you’re looking for a lively discussion about eXistenz, we strongly recommend checking out the GenreVision podcast for a more detailed breakdown.