Videodrome is a sci-fi body horror film written and directed by the famed visionary Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg. Max Renn played by James Woods is the president of a TV channel and is desperate for a program that will get the audience’s attention and earn him profits. Max comes across a program called ‘videodrome’ that has no plot or characters but just torture and violence. He broadcasts the show before realizing that the show might be something more than what it seems to be. Max becomes obsessed and uncovers dark truths behind it all leading us into a surreal underbelly of public media and technology either reflective of reality or his perception of it.
Cronenberg never uses body horror or better said, gore, to shock but to make smart social commentary. This is truer here compared to his other body horror work. There is no better way to portray the metaphorical dehumanization as literal than under Cronenberg’s visionary lens and practical effects to convey the central ideas and the paranoiac consequences. You must remember the times when television was called the “idiot box”. Now we have streaming services and internet that offer rotten and brainless content at our fingertips. People are desensitized to so much of vulgarity and stupidity that this seems to be a point of no return from unartistic and unimaginative media. Max Renn in ‘Videodrome’ is the executive that might as well be running your favourite tech or a media company only motivated to churn monetary profits. Only this time he is also a victim to his own crime and the vicious intent. Cronenberg’s sharp writing skills shine through more on the conceptual level as you realize the warped and disgusting perception of reality leads to literal modification in the body that now accommodates the feeding of media cassettes and violent tools. The show ‘videodrome’ transmitting actual illness is not far from our present reality where media and tech giants brainwash to gain for themselves. Programmed to think a certain way in the modern world, transformation to a thoughtful self has never been less self-controllable.
Cronenberg’s prescient body horror film shows the corrupt media, stupefied audience and the mutually consuming relationship between the two.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.