Saturday, May 11, 2013



Written & Directed 
Brandon Cronenberg

     It appears the body-horror fixation that encompassed so many of David Cronenberg's earlier films lives on with his son Brandon and his directorial debut Antiviral. A film that is by no means perfect but contains a steady mood of desperation and disgust. Brandon Cronenberg has crafted a cinematic experience that fills as if it just needed something more significant to happen to keep the tension precise but holds true to the feel and anxiety of terrors happening to, and within your body. The difference being that this is self-inflicted and full of celebrity obsession with a daft drive for a perfected, traumatic way of living.
     Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) is an employee at a clinic that sells celebrity viruses to obsessed fans that become infected with the disease themselves. The big celebrity is superstar Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon) who is the object of every one's desire. Syd infects himself with a virus from Hannah that is killing her he must ascertain the real reason behind her ill fated demise. The catch is that Syd supplies viruses to illegal, underground groups that sell to rabidly obsessed admirers. When he is infected with Hannah's disease, he is a target from these groups that what her virus to sell at any cost, including Syd's life.
     Talk about an unsettling premise to begin with. I mean, there is no doubt this society has lost all of its will and desire for individuality. These people are cooking and eating pieces of flesh that have been genetically grown from popular celebrities. The mind is almost obsolete in this world with the exception of consistently making financial gains and becoming a mogul in the virus selling business. The film traverses the sadistic side of this world with much blood and graphic disease infections. One scene where Syd vomits blood and smears it on a blown up picture of Hannah is typically gross.
     The main issue with the film is the lack of any significant moment. The film is beautifully shot in an almost white out glimmer that exemplifies the blind sided life humanity has taken. The performance from Jones, although a little too mumbled at times, is solid and the mumbling is the lack of growth and decay of the human existence. I just literally couldn't understand him at times. Cronenberg expresses a society that is lost in moral ambiguity and lives in a state of complete unhappiness. This world is so displeased with life and obsessed with popular celebrities that it wants to infect their own bodies and lives with these viruses. Crazy, but true. The mechanics, style and fringe for the corruption of the body are there but the slow ride just does not completely add up in the end, although there is a great supporting performance from Malcolm McDowell. The film needed a little punch or surprise to keep the tension going and in full effect.
     Brandon Cronenberg has definitely got the talent and style of a director who has a distinct vision. The body horror fear is in full effect, much like his father's earlier films Rabid, The Brood, Scanners and Videodrome. His take on the degradation of society and the uncomfortable abuse people will inflict on themselves to be like someone else is delicately composed in his first film. The film just lacked a little bit of turn, maybe even a Hitchcockian twist that elevated the story to new heights beyond the deference to the unsettling, but desired horror of self-inflicted diseases. Cronenberg's Antiviral is a good start to what looks to be a promising career from the son of the great David Cronenberg. 

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