The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Antiviral | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Antiviral

Directed by: Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon, Malcolm McDowell

Brandon Cronenberg, son of David, makes a debut in the mould of his father's work.

‘Antiviral’ presents us with a celebrity obsessed near future. In order to make a connection with their favorite celebs, members of the public can pay to be infected with diseased cells extracted directly from the stars. Syd (Landry Jones) works for a clinic which facilitates this process, infecting his customers with the latest afflictions of their idols. To make some money on the side, Syd secretly injects himself with these cells before extracting them from his body and trading them on the black market. When he is sent to take a sample from the current celeb-du-jour, Hannah Geist (Gadon), he injects some of the cells into himself before returning to the clinic where he suddenly becomes seriously unwell and has to excuse himself. When he wakes the next morning he discovers Geist has passed away from the disease. As Syd searches for answers to prevent his own imminent death, he uncovers a far-reaching conspiracy.
David Cronenberg is a divisive figure. Some critics hail him as one of the greatest film-makers of his time. Canadians consider him a national treasure. With a few exceptions, (The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome), I find his films a tough slog. Over the past decade he’s grown increasingly pretentious, culminating in last year’s unwatchable ‘Cosmopolis’. Now his son, Brandon, has taken up the mantle, and the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. In fact, it didn’t even fall off the tree, rather it landed on the next branch down. As you would expect from a member of the Cronenberg brood, the apple in question is decidedly rotten.
The premise of ‘Antiviral’ is interesting enough but the idea of examining celebrity obsession seems stale at this point. Thanks to reality T.V, people no longer look up to celebrities as we now live in an age where anyone can become a star. The central idea of Cronenberg’s film could possibly work effectively as a 45 minute episode of a T.V anthology show but there’s far too much pretentious padding to fill up the 108 minutes offered here. The film seems to exasperate its story before the hour mark, presenting us with endless scenes of “body-horror”, most of which consist of characters puking out their innards. Landry Jones has an interesting look but seems wildly miscast. With his pasty pale features, he appears to be on death’s door right from the film’s opening. We can’t see any discernible physical transformation over the course of the film.
It’s difficult to imagine Cronenberg getting this film made, at least in its current form, without the clout of his family name. Nepotism rarely wields positive results, certainly not in this case.
Antiviral (2012) on IMDb 6.2/10

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