Coming after last year’s sublime A History of Violence, Cronenberg’s second pairing with Viggo Mortensen comes complete with very high expectations. It starts very well, and we’re immediately drawn into this world of dead pregnant teens, the Russian mob, the hermeneutics of tattoos and the archetypal disappointment of a father with his son.

There’s a scene that will no doubt be the most memorable, a naked fight in a shower that’s intensely violent and violating, classic Cronenberg in its best sense. The taciturn Viggo once again brings his Oscar-worthy A-game, and Naomi Watts’ turn, while simpering, is nonetheless what the film calls for. Vincent Cassel once again turns being an asshole into a work of art, and the rest of the cast deliver top notch performances.

In the end, it is the ending that trips the film, a little too neat and abrupt for all the time spent creating such a delightfully intense mood. It’s as if a more epic film was truncated in favour of getting things done, or the first chapter of a larger story that has set things up, only to have another tale to see things through. Still, this only partially mars another fine effort from DC, and while it’s doesn’t reach the heights of last year’s flick, it still injects some fun and gore into a tired genre, and the master continues to show the almost-rans how it can be done.