Everyone's favorite gray-haired body-horror obsessed Canuck David Cronenberg is back after SHIVERS with his second feature-length nightmare, with partial funding from the Canadian government and Ivan Reitman serving as executive producer. This time around sex and desire are once again the enemy, with elective plastic surgery and the price of human physical perfection via experimentation added to the list. Though predating the AIDS scare of the 1980s, this is none the less a cautionary tale about the dangers of unprotected physical contact with strangers, and a warning about the consequences of unnaturally altering the human body. A majority of the film takes place at a plastic surgery institute, whose overseers discuss creating a plastic surgery franchise. Cronenberg deals with this installation and its inhabitants with pure disgust for those obsessed with human physical perfection.
Taking some cues from George Romero's 1973 film THE CRAZIES, this virus turns its victims into grotesque mouth-foaming, eye-bulging lunatics who bite and claw at others, spreading the disease. The effects, even with the films obvious low-budget, are handled with a professional touch. They are effective, shocking, and above all disturbingly real. Cronenberg's takes another cue from Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, in which he keeps the viewer in the dark as to what exactly caused Rose's body to mutate the way it did and thus creating the virus, though several characters attempt to explain it throughout the movie. The film primarily revolves around Rose's subjective view about what is happening to her, and since no one explains to her what is wrong with her, we as viewers are left in the dark to the origins as well. It makes her character's experiences all the more frightening, and the more tragic.