Emotional David Cronenberg Unveils Horror-Filled Meditation on Grief ‘The Shrouds’ at Cannes

The Cannes audience gave a respectful embrace to David Cronenberg’s chilly drama The Shrouds, the latest from the Canadian king of horror.

Cronenberg joined castmembers Vincent Cassel, Diane Kruger, Guy Pearce, Sandrine Holt and Elizabeth Saunders to hit the Croisette for the film’s premiere Monday. Cronenberg rocked the red carpet wearing a pair of white rimmed wrap-around 1990s-style plastic sunglasses.

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The film was met with applause that went on for three and a half minutes before Cronenberg put an end to it by taking the mic and thanking the crowd. The director explained that it was the first time he had seen the movie with an audience and added, “And it is completely different.”

Its reception was rather reserved, perhaps in keeping with the film’s subject matter of grief and death. The connection to the director’s own experience was made clear with Cassel’s character Karsh, who bore a clipped, greying haircut directly modeled on Cronenberg’s own.

Cassel stars in The Shrouds as Karsh, a businessman overwhelmed with grief at the death of his wife who builds a device — a high-tech shroud — to watch her body decompose in real time. Kruger plays three roles — that of the late wife and her sister, as well as a virtual avatar that is a rendering in CG animation. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the German actress said the film “made me think about my own mortality.”

The Shrouds is directly inspired by Cronenberg’s own grief at the loss of his wife, Carolyn, who died in 2017. As with every new movie from the 81-year-old director, there is speculation that The Shrouds could be Cronenberg’s last film. (Speculation the director himself refuses to either confirm or deny).

This is Cronenberg’s seventh film in competition in Cannes, and the style of body horror he pioneered casts a long shadow on the Croisette. Julia Ducournau’s 2021 Palme d’Or winner Titane is directly inspired by Cronenberg, as is Coralie Fargeat’s The Substance, one of this year’s hottest competition titles, which stars Demi Moore, Dennis Quaid and Margaret Qualley.

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