To a large extent, the Safdie brothers have shown the world that the reinvention of an already saturated genre like thrillers is possible. With modern masterpieces such as Good Times and Uncut Gems, the filmmaking duo have managed to translate the infinite anxieties and the frenetic chaos of human existence to the cinematic medium by formulating a new visual language of psychological destabilisation.
In a 2017 interview with the Criterion Channel, the Safdie brothers expressed their deep admiration for the horror genre. Ranging from Roman Polanski to the Coen brothers, the Safdie brothers provided undeniable evidence that they draw inspiration from an eclectic mixture of sources while making their own films. However, there’s one particular film that stands out for Josh Safdie as a major influence on his own vision.
Josh said: “Videodrome, to me, is one of the best films ever made. It really is, the prophecy element of it – especially now looking back. It’s deep, it’s a very deep movie and it’s unbelievably scary. James Woods is one of my favourite actors but to see him in that movie and think of who he is in 2017 – [about] how he’s shifted into this political figure.”
Adding, “You can imagine that character [Max Renn] having a Twitter account after going through and seeing the true colours of society. I don’t know, there’s something so twisted and eerie… [Cronenberg’s works] are all dealing with this deep, deep untrust with how life is presented and how you can usurp them with art in a weird way but at the same time, it will destroy you… [While] watching Videodrome, I feel like I am Max Renn finding the Videodrome.”
Directed by one of the pioneers of horror, David Cronenberg’s 1983 masterpiece Videodrome is a fantastic examination of modernity, mass media and the post-human evolutionary leap. Structured as a visceral experience, Videodrome is often cited as one of the finest body horror films of all time, but Cronenberg disagrees.
Cronenberg insisted that Videodrome is more of a philosophical meditation than a horror flick: “They talk about me as the inventor of body horror. But I’ve never thought of it as being horrific,” he said. “Of course, you’re being a showman, and if you’re making a low-budget horror film—there were a lot of those around at the time—how do you get yourself noticed?”
Adding: “Certainly I was in the world, and not an abstractionist. I was trying to make movies and continue to make movies. But there’s the philosophical underpinning for all of it. If neurology is reality, that’s an incredible theme—how to structure a narrative that will discuss that? Immediately you’re into changing the body to change the reality, and that’s what led me to all of those things like Videodrome.”