Cronenberg to Code 45: How Do You Know What’s Real?

One of Code 45‘s defining themes is the exploration of just how subjective reality might be. The idea that what I perceive as being ‘real’ might not match the impressions of the person standing beside me – or the collective experience of a group – has always been fascinating to me, and something that I have repeatedly sought out from storytellers most of my life.

Looking back, it’s clear to me that the work of Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg had the biggest influence on me in terms of questioning the nature of reality within a narrative. My first exposure to Cronenberg was the movie ‘Videodrome,’ a film where a mysterious television signal begins to alter the fabric of the world around those who are exposed to it – or at least, it certainly appears as though that’s what is happening. The audience is never really given a clear answer as to whether what the main character perceives is actually, definitively real, which I believe to be one of the points that the movie is trying to make.

From there I spent much of my teenage years seeking out further Cronenberg explorations, including films he made with similar themes such as his adaptation of ‘Naked Lunch,’ and ‘Existenz.’ In many of his films from that era (the 80s and 90s), Cronenberg’s characters would find ways to enter – or be entered by – a world seemingly divorced from the physical laws that govern the one they were previously sharing with the audience. Often-times, these explorations and adventures would be messy, perilous, and strain an individual’s ability to remain sane, or at the very least objective, in the face of what they were experiencing.

With Code 45 I wanted to explore similar territory, but in a more subtle manner. Whereas Cronenberg was a champion of body horror and graphic violence, I’m more interested in the blurriness of the line between reality and what one might term ‘unreality,’ or an experience that isn’t tied to a universally shared absolute. Being unable to confidently discern the difference between an actual experience and a hallucination – or being so divorced from the perceptions of others that you no longer hold anything in common with them – is ultimately more terrifying from my own perspective.

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