Film Review: Antiviral

Brandon Cronenberg carries on his father David’s tradition of science fiction/body horror with Antiviral. At times uncomfortable viewing, the film nevertheless compels.

Syd Marsh works in a clinic which sells injections of viruses harvested from sick celebrities to obsessed fans. Syd also supplies vials of these to pirate groups, smuggling out the infections in his own body. When he becomes infected with the virus that has debilitated superstar Hannah Geist, Syd becomes a wanted commodity…

The premise of Antiviral, which was written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, is great. The film takes celebrity worship to the extreme with an interesting and unusual tangent. The film does not seek to make a strong point or complex allegory with its theme. There is no deeper ponderance on celebrity culture than what is on the surface. However, this does not matter as Antiviral in finely executed.

Antiviral works as a science fiction/body horror piece. Taking cues from his father, Brandon Cronenberg has created an uneasiness that is protracted. The theme and imagery create a distinctive atmosphere. Clinical and dystopian, there is nothing about the film that feels comfortable. The at direction is a powerful force in Antiviral. The imagery displayed is sometimes difficult to look at. The film combines the visceral with the clinical. Cronenberg’s film is certainly not recommended for those with a fear of needles.

Casting in the film is on point. Caleb Landry Jones appears completely authentic as protagonist Syd March. He really does look sick as the film progresses, which is also thanks to the make up and effects. Sarah Gadon looks every inch the celebrity as the much desired Hannah Geist.

Antiviral is a promising debut feature from Brandon Cronenberg. Fans of his father’s work should approve.

Antiviral is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.