Anytime someone makes a movie that truly surprises me in this day and age, I figure they’ve accomplished something. David Cronenberg’s new one, A History of Violence, starts off looking like it’s going down one particular road and then just keeps making left turns. You really never know what’s going to happen next, which makes for a very nervous-making viewing experience. At times the suspense is downright Hitchcockian, and in fact there’s a moment early on that makes me think of Psycho…but I won’t elaborate any further, because I don’t want to give anything away.
Cronenberg has always been a master of the twisted cinema, and this one is no exception, though it’s twisted in a much different way than his early horror films. I highly recommend it, with the caveat that it’s extremely brutal, both violence-wise and psychology-wise, though not gratuitously so. This is not a good popcorn movie, but it is a brilliant piece of filmmaking.