By: Heather Seebach
As the debut film of Brandon Cronenberg, Antiviral is constantly compared to the works of the director's legendary father, David. That comparison is as insulting as it is pointless. If Brandon's first film is bad, he's called a poor substitute for his father; if it's good, he is hailed as an heir to the body horror throne. Ultimately, all that matters is the quality of the movie itself which, in this case, is pretty damn good, especially for a first feature.
Antiviral takes place in a fictional society where celebrity diseases are harvested and sold to obsessed fans. Syd, a technician in the business, acts as an infection mule, smuggling out live viruses so he can make a profit on the black market. When he becomes infected with a deadlier - and more coveted - disease than he anticipated from a famous starlet, it becomes a race against time to save himself from the virus and the shady businessmen who want his exclusive pathogen.
Typically, I am not fond of films with over-the-top, unrealistic premises. However, this is science fiction - exaggeration goes with the territory. There are definitely sickos in the real world who would purchase biological pieces of celebrities. While Antiviral seems to portray a reality where that behavior is commonplace, it narrows its scope on said weirdos and expands it to make a point. That point, of course, is that society is obsessed with celebrities to an unhealthy degree.
Cronenberg's concept is incredibly unique and fascinating, and despite its exaggerated nature, bears relevance to our own TMZ-driven, reality show-loving society. The film is also really creepy, and every time I thought it was beyond sick, it got even more disturbing. The only downside of the screenplay is that it drags a bit in the third act.
Cronenberg shows real potential not only as a screenwriter, but his eye as a director shows promise as well. Sterile white set decorations, an eerie score, and effectively subdued camerawork work together to create one creepy fever-dream of a movie.
Antiviral is currently available on VOD or watch it instantly on Amazon using this link: