Continuing with the theme of games/virtual reality in my Digital Humanities class, we watched the 1999 sci-fi movie eXistenZ. I personally have never heard of this movie before being told we were going to watch it in class. SPOILER WARNING! This post will talk about the movie’s major plot and ending!
This movie is strange to say the least. It has elements of horror and is rated R, most likely because of the violence, gore, and language. The movie starts at a church where a focus group is being asked to try out a new video game called eXistenZ. The creator of the game, Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is there to lead the gameplay while Pikul (Jude Law) is there to assist as a bodyguard. After a crazy kid attempts to murder Allegra with a weird teeth gun, she and Pikul go on the run together.
The part of the movie that freaks me out the most is how the game is played. There is no machine or controllers, the “pod” that hosts the game is a living thing made out of amphibian’s body parts and ports into people’s spines with a weird umbilical cord??? Yeah, it’s…..interesting.
Skipping ahead through a bunch of other crazy and weird shenanigans, we learn that the “actual” world that we thought the two were in is actually just another layer of the game. Kind of similar to Inception, it’s a game inside of a game. And so when the players beat the second layer of the game, we are shown the reality that Allegra and Pikul are not a game developer and bodyguard at all. They are testing out a game called “tranCendenZ” in a church with a focus group similar to the beginning of the movie. Instead of the pods, they are using electronic devices that sit on their heads to play the game. After some light discussion we find out that Allegra and Pikul are actually a couple, who then approach the “tranCendenZ” game developer.
Get ready for a twist. Allegra and Pikul assassinate the “tranCendenZ” game developer while the other group members watch, frozen. They walk up to a man sitting by the door and threaten to shoot him. He pleads for his life, but then asks, “Are we still in the game?”
BOOM. MIND. BLOWN. In my opinion, they are. The group members did nothing while they shot the “tranCendenz” guy, the way they pulled the gun from the dog’s back, and the way they stared at the camera in confusion at the end seemed game-like.
The blurred lines between reality and the game are a warning. With the developments of augmented reality games, I could see a point where it gets so real, no one will know where the game ends and reality starts.