A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.
In the near-future, biotechnological virtual reality game consoles known as “game pods” have replaced electronic ones. The pods present “UmbyCords” that attach to “bio-ports”, connectors surgically inserted into players’ spines . Two game companies, Antenna Research and Cortical Systematics, compete against each other. In addition, a group of “Realists” fights both companies to prevent the “deforming” of reality.
Antenna Research’s Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a world renowned game designer, is demonstrating her latest virtual reality game, eXistenZ to a focus group at a seminar. A realist named Noel Dichter (Kris Lemche) shoots Allegra in the shoulder with an organic pistol he smuggled past security. As Dichter is gunned down by the security team, security guard (and marketing trainee) Ted Pikul (Jude Law) rushes to Geller and escorts her outside.
Geller discovers that her pod, which contains the only copy of eXistenZ, may have been damaged. Pikul reluctantly agrees to have a bio-port installed in his spine so they can test the integrity of the game together. Allegra takes him to a gas station run by a black-marketeer named Gas (Willem Dafoe) to get it done. Gas deliberately installs a faulty bio-port, which damages the game pod, and reveals his intention to kill Geller for the bounty on her head. Pikul kills Gas, and the two escape to a former ski lodge used by Geller’s mentor, Kiri Vinokur (Ian Holm). Vinokur and his assistant repair the damaged pod and give Pikul a new bio-port…