Many artists attempt to predict the future in their works of art. This can prove to be a huge mistake if there ends up being no correlation between how we live and the work itself. If the artist does get it right, it proves to be an amazing work that creates philosophical discussion for everyone. Videodrome is a perfect example of an older film resonating with how the current population lives today.
The film focuses on Max Renn (James Woods), the president of a rather seedy television station. Due to a small viewing size, Max feels the need to find the most obscure and shocking television to put on his station, in order to create a loyal and niche market. His hunt results in him finding Videodrome, a television signal/channel that has the ability to manipulate the mind. This station is controlled by higher political and religious powers that have strong philosophical beliefs.
Videodrome is directed by David Cronenberg, who is famous for his use of body horror. What this means is that there are tons of squeamish moments involving the body itself. Over time, Max Renn’s perception of the world is so distorted that the body begins to morph in and out. Televisions begin to feel and even appear to have skin. Electronics and tools begin to connect with the body in weird ways. All of this is rooted in the societal need for sensation. Right from the start, Videodrome comments on humanities overarching desire for more and more sensation just for sensation's sake. At what cost are we constantly filling our bellies with pointless television, music, sex, and whatever else?
The uncomfortability of the film is pushed by the interconnection between the false and real world. We see the world through Renn’s eyes, which results in a skewed experience. The film itself allows the viewer to interpret the film in many different ways, but it helps with some of the more important points. When a delusion or fantasy takes place, many times there is a character that makes that clear for the viewer. When something really does happen, those same characters will comment on the veracity of it. Some viewers may think that the film should have left the viewer in more obscurity, but the atmosphere itself creates enough topic points. The link between the obsession with technology in the 80’s and how it still resonates today makes for a unique viewing experience.
Videodrome is littered with amazing talking points, but there are some incidents that could drive the viewer crazy. Max Renn is the classic pawn that is manipulated by everyone around him. While his enslavement is understandable, it does create this sense of dread that leaves the viewer helpless. I personally enjoy this, but many viewers may see his actions as stupidity, and not curiosity killing the cat. The ending itself can be interpreted in many different ways, but some may find it too literal and disappointing. Again, with a film that is really philosophical, there is bound to be conversation on just about every scene. Any film that can get people talking should be praised for its ability to do so.
Very few horror films connect with a society in such an appropriate way. Watching a movie about the harms of continuously watching movies, porn, and television feels weird in and of itself. Throw in body horror and the viewer will constantly feel the need to shift in their chairs. Videodrome may not feel like any other horror film you have ever watched, but honestly that is what makes it so weird and delightful. If you want to be pushed intellectually, while still feeling freaked out, this is the film for you.