Now 71, veteran Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg continues to push the boundaries more than most.
After A History of Violence (2005) and Eastern Promises (2007), this ultra-dark satire about twisted Hollywood values is his third adults-only movie in a decade.
Strong language, explicit bedroom scenes, pill-popping and abuse themes combine to create a heady, 18-certificate cocktail of issues.
There isn’t anything here to rival the violence of John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990).
But Cronenberg’s belated US debut is still a disturbing account of the consequences – rather than the act – of incest, all set in Tinseltown where the need to serve a camera won’t let anyone escape their past.
Modern great Julianne Moore, 53, delivers a shockingly-brave performance as the ageing grand dynasty actress Havana Segrand.
In order to cope with fading looks and a near-desperation to remake one of her mother’s movies, she relies on self-help guru Dr Stafford Weiss (John Cusack, eyeliner and all).
But he’s married to troubled Christina (Olivia Williams) and they have a brat of a teenage film star son called Benjie (Evan Bird) who has already been in rehab.
Driven into town by actor / chauffeur Jereme Fontana (Robert Pattinson), the mysteriously scarred Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) will soon challenge everyone’s eggshell fragility.
As with Cronenberg’s last film, Cosmopolis (2012), Pattinson is often car-bound, albeit as the driver this time.
But this is really a two-hander for the headline girls. Wasikowska is brilliantly off-the-wall as the manipulative outsider, while Moore, haunted by her mother’s ghost, is in constant danger of imploding.
With none of the characters happy at work, Cronenberg turns the screw on all of them at home in a brazenly unhinged, classy psychological horror thriller.