(Photo by New Line, 20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection)

All 22 David Cronenberg Movies Ranked

Over the course of six decades, David Cronenberg has built a bloody, slimed-over, and warped throne of flesh and bone to sit upon as the king of body horror. His first two films, Stereo and Crimes of the Future, are little-seen, ready for Cronenberg fans to re-discover and find that his obsession with pushing the boundaries of science, sexual perversity, and our oh-so-tenuous grasp on our physical self was present from the beginning.

Rabid and The Brood made more of a squeamish splash with general audiences. And in the ’80s, Cronenberg came into his own: Scanners was all over horror magazines for its legendary exploding head sequence. The Dead Zone contributed to a hot streak of Stephen King adaptations happening across the industry, following Carrie and The Shining. The Fly was the rare excellent remake and had the good sense to parade Jeff Goldblum around in his underwear (and vomit). And Videodrome seemed to best express Cronenberg’s vision of how the self can be utterly compromised by sinister forces.

The ’90s saw Cronenberg experimenting with an expanded dramatic palette (M. Butterfly, Naked Lunch) with varied results, which would pay dividends in the following decade. That’s when he released A History of Violence, which would become his highest-grossing movie, be nominated for two Oscars, and mark the start of a fruitful collaboration with Viggo Mortensen. The actor was nominated for the Oscar in their follow-up Eastern Promises, which boasts a bath house fight that’ll please those who think the tighty-whities Goldblum wore in The Fly were too much clothing. The third Viggo movie was A Dangerous Method, a kinky yet classy flick of psychology that brought in Keira Knightley and Michael Fassbender.

And you know how Robert Pattinson is your new favorite actor, especially after you had written him off for those Twilight movies? You can thank Cronenberg for giving Pattinson the opportunity to do weird roles to shake up his image, in movies like Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars. Cronenberg had appeared to have retired in recent years with the shifting movie and media landscape, but in 2022 he returned with Crimes of the Future, another body-horror shocker unrelated to his early film of the same name. If that’s the case, then it’s been an impressive, influential, and gross – really, really gross – career, which we’re celebrating now with all 21 David Cronenberg movies ranked – Certified Fresh films first! Alex Vo

#1

The Fly (1986)
93%

#1
Adjusted Score: 99694%
Critics Consensus: David Cronenberg combines his trademark affinity for gore and horror with strongly developed characters, making The Fly a surprisingly affecting tragedy.
Synopsis: When scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) completes his teleportation device, he decides to test its abilities on himself. Unbeknownst to... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#2

The Dead Zone (1983)
88%

#2
Adjusted Score: 90855%
Critics Consensus: The Dead Zone combines taut direction from David Cronenberg and and a rich performance from Christopher Walken to create one of the strongest Stephen King adaptations.
Synopsis: When Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) awakens from a coma caused by a car accident, he finds that years have passed,... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#3

Eastern Promises (2007)
89%

#3
Adjusted Score: 98052%
Critics Consensus: David Cronenberg triumphs again, showcasing the Viggo Mortensen's onscreen prowess in a daring performance. Bearing the trademarks of psychological drama and gritty violence, Eastern Promises is a very compelling crime story.
Synopsis: Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), who is both ruthless and mysterious, has ties to one of the most dangerous crime families in... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 96312%
Critics Consensus: A History of Violence raises compelling and thoughtful questions about the nature of violence, while representing a return to form for director David Cronenberg in one of his more uncharacteristic pieces.
Synopsis: When a pair of petty criminals attempt to rob his small-town diner, Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) quickly and easily kills... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#5

Spider (2002)
85%

#5
Adjusted Score: 88752%
Critics Consensus: Ralph Fiennes is brilliant in this accomplished and haunting David Cronenberg film.
Synopsis: Released after decades in a sanitarium, schizophrenic Dennis "Spider" Cleg (Ralph Fiennes) moves into Mrs. Wilkinson's (Lynn Redgrave) halfway house... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#6

Dead Ringers (1988)
84%

#6
Adjusted Score: 85374%
Critics Consensus: Dead Ringers serves up a double dose of Jeremy Irons in service of a devilishly unsettling concept and commandingly creepy work from director David Cronenberg.
Synopsis: Elliot (Jeremy Irons), a successful gynecologist, works at the same practice as his identical twin, Beverly (also Irons). Elliot is... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#7

Videodrome (1983)
79%

#7
Adjusted Score: 82153%
Critics Consensus: Visually audacious, disorienting, and just plain weird, Videodrome's musings on technology, entertainment, and politics still feel fresh today.
Synopsis: As the president of a trashy TV channel, Max Renn (James Woods) is desperate for new programming to attract viewers.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 85652%
Critics Consensus: A provocative historical fiction about the early days of psychoanalysis, A Dangerous Method is buoyed by terrific performances by Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, and Viggo Mortensen.
Synopsis: In 1904 a Russian woman named Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) arrives at Carl Jung's (Michael Fassbender) clinic, seeking treatment for... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#9

Fast Company (1979)
89%

#9
Adjusted Score: 36340%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After his sponsor replaces him with his archrival, a race-car driver decides to steal the car and race it himself.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#10

The Brood (1979)
82%

#10
Adjusted Score: 83664%
Critics Consensus: The Brood is a grotesque, squirming, hilariously shrill exploration of the bizarre and deadly side of motherhood.
Synopsis: A mad doctor (Oliver Reed) tries psychoplasmic therapy on a raging woman (Samantha Eggar) soon to be a mother.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#11

Shivers (1975)
85%

#11
Adjusted Score: 85680%
Critics Consensus: Shivers uses elementally effective basic ingredients to brilliant effect - and lays the profoundly unsettling foundation for director David Cronenberg's career to follow.
Synopsis: After a scientist living in a posh apartment complex slaughters a teen girl and kills himself, investigators discover that the... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 93454%
Critics Consensus: Quintessential if not classic Cronenberg, Crimes of the Future finds the director revisiting familiar themes with typically unsettling flair.
Synopsis: As the human species adapts to a synthetic environment, the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#13

Rabid (1977)
76%

#13
Adjusted Score: 77816%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Surgery leaves a Montreal motorcyclist (Marilyn Chambers) with a bloodsucking appendage in her armpit.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#14

eXistenZ (1999)
74%

#14
Adjusted Score: 76723%
Critics Consensus: Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun.
Synopsis: Video game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has created a virtual reality game called eXistenZ. After a crazed fan... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#15

Scanners (1981)
69%

#15
Adjusted Score: 71676%
Critics Consensus: Scanners is a dark sci-fi story with special effects that'll make your head explode.
Synopsis: Scanners are men and women born with incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers. There are many who exercise the benefits of... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#16

Naked Lunch (1991)
70%

#16
Adjusted Score: 72166%
Critics Consensus: Strange, maddening, and at times incomprehensible, Naked Lunch is nonetheless an engrossing experience.
Synopsis: Blank-faced bug killer Bill Lee (Peter Weller) and his dead-eyed wife, Joan (Judy Davis), like to get high on Bill's... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#17

Cosmopolis (2012)
66%

#17
Adjusted Score: 74106%
Critics Consensus: Though some may find it cold and didactic, Cosmopolis benefits from David Cronenberg's precise direction, resulting in a psychologically complex adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel.
Synopsis: A 28-year-old billionaire (Robert Pattinson) senses his empire collapsing around him as he takes a limo ride across Manhattan to... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#18

Crash (1996)
64%

#18
Adjusted Score: 66289%
Critics Consensus: Despite the surprisingly distant, clinical direction, Crash's explicit premise and sex is classic Cronenberg territory.
Synopsis: "Crash" is about the strange lure of the auto collision, provoking as it does the human fascination with death and... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 67346%
Critics Consensus: Narratively unwieldy and tonally jumbled, Maps to the Stars still has enough bite to satisfy David Cronenberg fans in need of a coolly acidic fix.
Synopsis: Driven by an intense need for fame and validation, members of a dysfunctional Hollywood dynasty have lives as dramatic as... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#20

Stereo (1969)
60%

#20
Adjusted Score: 39301%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Scientists perform surgery which allows humans to communicate through telepathy.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 34586%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A man (Ronald Mlodzik) takes a bizarre journey while searching for a kidnapped 5-year-old girl.... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg

#22

M. Butterfly (1993)
43%

#22
Adjusted Score: 41378%
Critics Consensus: David Cronenberg reins in his provocative sensibility and handles delicate material with restraint, yielding a disappointing adaptation that flattens M. Butterfly into a tedious soap opera.
Synopsis: René Gallimard (Jeremy Irons) is a diplomat from France who has been sent to Beijing. While acclimating to life in... [More]
Directed By: David Cronenberg