Antiviral (2012)

Written and Directed by Brandon Cronenberg

Starring Caleb Landry Jones, Douglas Smith, Sarah Gadon and Malcolm McDowell

Celebrities are an enigmatic part of our lives. These larger than life individuals seem almost mythic, an unattainable force that, although human, seem to live a life far beyond our feeble existences. Fans can grow to a near obsessive state to achieve closeness to those they desire… but how far is too far? How far would fan obsession need to grow before it got out of hand? What is the line of good taste? Perhaps it might just be obtaining the object of our desire at a near single celled level…

That is the incredibly disturbing and very unique premise at hand in the feature film debut of body-horror maestro David Cronenberg’s son, Brandon. As would be expected, the apple does not far fall from the twisted, malformed tree. Brandon uses that which dwells in his veins to craft this tale in which fan obsessives will pay top dollar just to inject themselves with the blood and microbes of a celebrity, even going so far as to crave their sicknesses just to be closer. It’s a macabre commentary on some aspects of society that may or may not be very far from reality.

As for the film itself on a technical standpoint, it’s a very impressive looking film. The sets range from sterile stark white to grungy back alley operation rooms which echoes the grime mired aesthetic of the film overall. There’s plenty of visceral and biological based nastiness to be had, which certainly makes this one not for the squeamish… or the impatient for that matter. One of the downsides is that it takes a very good long while to get going, even becoming a bit boring at times. It’s a worthy build up though as there is also plenty of strong performances including the man/myth/legend himself Malcolm McDowell.

Antiviral is a strange film, there’s no denying. It’s not going to be for everyone as its bizarre premise and snot/pus fueled aesthetic will turn away some whom might be acclimated to even the most gruesome of gore scenes. I also wish I could say I was entertained throughout, but there are plenty of slow patches that simply eke the momentum from the premise.

There’s plenty to like here and to suggest that young Cronenberg has all the tools to be as successful as his father. His debut film is not perfect and might be a bit too ambitious for its own good, but it’s certainly a worthwhile watch and a strong and nasty bit of societal commentary to boot.

3.5/5 Flu loaded syringes

Splatter Factor: 3/5  *** This is a difficult film to rate, gore wise as there is blood. There is copious amounts of blood vomiting and plenty of nasty practical effects. Yet some of it also stems from other bodily functions that, while not necessarily qualifying as gore, will still turn the stomachs of some. Not recommended for the squeamish.***

The Collective Speaks: We too long for a chance to assimilate the souls of the most famous and talented individuals dwelling in the world. Perhaps we will someday have the opportunity… imagine what havoc we could wreak absorbing the bulk of Kane Hodder or the menacing aura of Tony Todd? We shudder at the thought.. One can purchase a human soul online, yes? Perhaps we will force our vessel to investigate…

Ah here we go…

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