by Montgomery Lopez
[Montgomery Lopez concentrates on the science fiction/horror/fantasy slice of the blogosphere at his Monster Scifi Show Blog]
Having known David Cronenberg primarily as a horror genre director, A History of Violence doesn’t exactly appear to be Cronenberg’s cup of tea on the surface. Even the summary from IMDB for this film, “a mild mannered man becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core,” doesn’t necessarily sound like Cronenberg material. Even the opening 4-minute one-take shot is not representative of a typical Cronenberg film. But there is evidence of a thematic similarity that resonates throughout his films.
As with many of his films, there’s a constant thread of some type of metamorphosis within the main character like Max Renn (James Woods) in Videodrome, Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) in The Fly, and even Rose (the late Marilyn Chambers) in Rabid. With Videodrome, Renn’s body is altered by the disturbing hallucinations he experiences due to watching Videodrome. In The Fly, Brundle is changed by an experiment gone horribly wrong. And in Rabid, Rose is infected after a botched surgery. These are all external forces that change these characters against their will.