The Shrouds (2024)

The Shrouds Review

The Shrouds (2024)

David Cronenberg’s The Shrouds is a deeply personal film made in an impersonal style; it is creepy, slow, and sometimes funny when considering how all-consuming grief is. Vincent Cassel stars as Karsh, a 50-year-old tech innovator who looks uncannily like Cronenberg he wears all black and slicks back his salt-and-pepper hair — and untangles the strange particulars of a post-mortem mystery while grappling with dreams and waking nightmares about the impermanence of flesh. This sets up an interesting thematic tension upon which The Shrouds thrives: between death as an end point versus long-lasting forces such as love or desire.

Grave Tech CEO Karsh (Cassel) tries to revolutionize mourning rituals inspired by his wife Becca’s death after almost 40 years together with him. Karsh knows this sounds ridiculous – we see him on his first date in years explaining this to a woman. But he takes her to Becca’s grave site that’s his idea of romance. Having spent so much time fixated on violence, death, and body horror throughout his career has not insulated Cronenberg from what people might think about such things; they are shocked when shown Karsh’s invention: an embalming shroud shaped like a cocoon fitted out with visual sensors allowing mourners to watch their loved ones decompose before their very eyes through headstone-mounted screens in real time and close-up detail.

However unsettling those around him find it indeed one could say that represents Cronenberg’s own cinematic worldview concerning physicality entwined with technology being unavoidable there does seem something sweetly sympathetic behind all these macabre revelations coming from someone like Karsh who must have been left feeling empty inside after losing Becca but then also driven by some part of himself which still wants to crawl inside her grave electronically speaking somewhere along these lines. Although its themes and characters’ motivations tend towards being spoken aloud too often within the narrative, what makes Cassel so magnetic here is his silent sorrow especially when things start getting really weird later on during the movie; for instance some kind of nodular growths appear on top of Becca’s bones maybe an effect caused by her cancer? which raises questions answered by the story but only from Karsh’s limited perspective.

It should also be noted that Cronenberg’s wife died from cancer; therefore witnessing illness destroy a body you love forms part of what The Shrouds is about. Just as this decay process does not suggest any lack in affection held towards human beings by Karsh (or even more broadly speaking himself), so too does it never reduce itself to being merely another example where Becca’s physicality gets exposed frequently sans clothes although now also stripped down further revealing bones and few remaining strands.

Even when he dreams about her having scars over skin along with breast plus arm having been surgically removed, there remains something ethereal about these moments since they still bear some form of adoration even though were she not dead then would Diane Kruger be appearing as someone else entirely but rather playing both roles concurrently throughout The Shrouds namely Terry who happens to still be alive while sharing many facial features alongside deceased sibling their different bodies being treated separately within Cronenberg’s mind or heart alike. Love and sex are approached holistically in The Shrouds vis-à-vis Dead Ringers as far back as David Cronenberg’s career goes: every human soul possesses its own unique physical structure just like any other person does.

Be that as it may, Cronenberg is also centered around what occurs with the spirit when it winds up perverted by distress in our modern world. Rows of brutalist columns fill The Shrouds’ extravagant cemeteries, which are screen-centric, like Chantal Akerman’s museum installation about metamorphosis, D’Est. One such burial site is robbed and vandalized, so Karsh goes to a tech-savvy friend who happens to be Terry’s maladjusted ex-husband Maury (Guy Pearce), to pull on various threads — not only his own work but Becca’s romantic past, as well as globe-spanning corporate espionage; the details never quite make sense, often framed through a xenophobic lens. But these conspiracies are depicted only through dialogue between characters and keep their paranoid thinking centered at all times.

Cronenberg has always been interested in the point where tech meets death think back to Videodrome’s transformative snuff broadcasts or more recently the cyberpunk cancer drama Crimes of the Future. The Shrouds feels like an opaque extension of the latter; it explores how technology affects death as a psychological construct and distorts mourning itself.

An early dream sequence sees Karsh let out a visceral wail, and never again does the film depict anguish with such piercing purity. But to fall back on cinematic familiarity would go against everything Cronenberg has ever stood for as an artist. He shrouds (pun intended) his depictions of pain in ways that aren’t just self-reflexive but self-critical of grief as a modern cultural concept and how it leads people astray a path to which even his own onscreen avatar is not immune.

The Shrouds might seem impenetrable at first, but it metastasizes in the brain and heart like a cancer. Let it sit with you long enough and it starts to feel like Cronenberg’s most complete, self-assured and dramatically satisfying work in years. If a movie could seem as cold as a corpse, then become an autopsy of the filmmaker’s own grief and cinematic fixations, it would be The Shrouds. Through dry conversations about paranoia and dreams steeped in raw honesty about the human form, the body-horror maestro once again takes us on a thrilling journey through where technology and death meet.

Watch The Shrouds For Free On Gomovies.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top